New Additions to the PRC Seminary Library – 3rd Quarter 2019 (2)

20191108_144558

In this post we finish the list of significant additions to the library of the PRC Seminary in the third quarter of this year (June-Sept. 2019). Earlier this week we posted the first part of the list; in this one we list those titles added in the areas of theology, practical theology, and philosophy.

As you will notice, many valuable books were added in this last quarter also. And while these titles are primarily for the work and studies of our faculty, students, and visitors, there are certainly resources here that are useful for our readers. Perhaps some of the books here will encourage you to make it your read, and even to add it to your library or your church’s library. That would make me an even happier librarian! 🙂

Don’t forget our motto: Read more and read better!

Dogmatics, Biblical Theology, Historical Theology

  • Doing Theology with the Reformers / Gerald L. Bray. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019.
  • Luther’s Works: Volume 56 – Sermons III / Martin Luther, 1483-1546. ; Benjamin T.G. Mayes. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing, 2018.
  • Luther’s Outlaw God: Volume 1: Hiddenness, Evil, and Predestination / Steven D. Paulson; Paul Rorem. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2018.
  • Theoretical-Practical Theology: Faith in the Triune God / Peter van Mastricht, 1630- 1706; Todd M. Rester, Transl.; Joel R. Beeke. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage
    Books, 2019.
  • Reading the Decree: Exegesis, Election and Christology in Calvin and Barth / David Gibson; Ian A. McFarland; Ivor Davidson; John Webster. London; New York: T & T
    Clark, 2009. (T & T Clark Studies In Systematic Theology)
  • The Soteriology of James Ussher: The Act and Object of Saving Faith / Richard Snoddy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2014 (Oxford Studies in Historical Theology)
  • The Works of William Perkins: Volume 7 – Reformed Catholic, Problem of the Forged Catholicism, Warning Against Idolatry / William Perkins, 1558-1602; Derek Thomas;
    Joel R. Beeke, editor. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • Resourcing Theological Anthropology: A Constructive Account of Humanity in the Light of Christ / Marc Cortez. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017.
  • Rethinking Holiness: A Theological Introduction / Bernie A. Van De Walle. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017.
  • Awakening the Evangelical Mind: An Intellectual History of the Neo-Evangelical Movement / Owen Strachan; Albert R. Jr. Mohler. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.
  • The Beauty and Glory of the Last Things / Joel R. Beeke; Michael P. V. Barrett; David Strain. Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2019.
  • What Jesus Demands from the World / John Piper. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006.
  • Reformed Ecclesiology in an Age of Denominationalism / Philippus J. Hoedemaker, 1839-1910; Ruben Alvarado, Transl. Alten, the Netherlands: Pantocrator Press/ Wordbridge Publishing, 1904/2019.

Picture of The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge

  • The Doctrine of the Spirituality of the Church in the Ecclesiology of Charles Hodge /
    Alan D. Strange. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2017 (Reformed Academic
    Dissertations)
  • God with Us and for Us: Papers Read at the 2017 Westminster Conference / Stephen Clark; Guy Davies; Andrew Young. London: The Westminster Conference, 2017 (including articles on Arminius and the Synod of Dordt).
  • Sovereign Grace o’er Sin Abounding: Papers Read at the 2018 Westminster Conference /Paul Wells; Geoff. Thomas; J. Philip Arthur. London: The Westminster Conference, 2018.
  • Possessed by God: A New Testament Theology of Sanctification and Holiness / David Peterson. Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Apollos; InterVarsity Press, c1995 (New Studies in Biblical Theology), vol. 1
  • Five Festal Garments: Christian Reflections on the Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther / Barry G. Webb; Donald A. Carson. Downers Grove, IL: Apollos/InterVarsity Press, 2000 (New Studies in Biblical Theology), vol. 10
  • New Covenant Theology: Weighed and Found Wanting / Kevin McGrane; Peter Naylor. Essex, England: The Gospel Magazine Trust, 2018.
  • Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community / Tim Chester;
    Steve Timmis. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, c2008.

Philosophy, Logic, Ethics

  • The Christian Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd: Volume I – The Transcendental
    Critique of Theoretical Thought / Pierre Marcel, 1910-1992. ; Colin Wright, Transl. (1st English) Aalten, the Netherlands: Wordbridge Publishing, 2013.
  • The Christian Philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd: Volume II – The General Theory of the Law-Spheres / Pierre Marcel, 1910-1992. ; Colin Wright, Transl. (1st English)
    Aalten, the Netherlands: Wordbridge Publishing, 2013.

Practical Theology (1) – Christian Living, Ethics, Family, Marriage, Missions, Prayer

  • Reformed Ethics / Herman Bavinck, 1854-1921; John Bolt, editor; Dirk van Keulen.
    Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2019 (vol.1)
  • Beyond Authority and Submission: Women and Men in Marriage, Church, and Society / Rachel Green Miller; Aimee Byrd. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2019.
  • Kemp: The Story of John R. and Mabel Kempers, Founders of the Reformed Church in America Mission in Chiapas, Mexico / Pablo Alberto Deiros. Grand Rapids, MI : William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016 (The Historical Series of the Reformed Church in America) v. 86
  • Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse / Jennifer M. (Michelle) Greenberg; Russell Moore. Good Book Company, 2019.

Practical Theology (2) – Church Government/Leadership, Counseling, Pastoral Ministry, Preaching, Sermons, Worship

  • Preaching: A Biblical Theology / Jason C. (Jason Curtis) Meyer; John Piper. Wheaton,
    IL: Crossway, 2013.
  • Preaching and Teaching the Last Things: Old Testament Eschatology for the Life of the Church / Walter C. Kaiser. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011.
  • Preaching the Psalms: Unlocking the Unsearchable Riches of David’s Treasury / Steven J. Lawson; Hughes Oliphant Old. Darlington: EP Books, 2014.
  • The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision / Gerald Hiestand; Todd A.
    Wilson; Timothy George. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015.
  • Faithful Endurance: The Joy of Shepherding People for a Lifetime / Collin Hansen,
    editor; Jeff Robinson; David M. Carson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2019.
  • The Pastor’s Justification: Applying the Work of Christ in Your Life and Ministry / Jared C. Wilson. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.
  • A Glad Obedience: Why and What We Sing / Walter Brueggemann; John D. Witvliet.
    Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2019.
  • The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart / Harold L. Senkbeil; Michael Horton.
    Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2019.
  • From the Lord and “The Best Reformed Churches”: A Study of the Eucharistic Liturgy in the English Puritan and Separatist Traditions, 1550-1633 / Bryan D. Spinks. Roma: C.L.V.-Edizioni liturgiche, 1984 (Bibliotheca “Ephemerides Liturgicae.” Subsidia) vol.33
  • Freedom or Order? : The Eucharistic Liturgy in English Congregationalism, 1645-1980 / Bryan D. Spinks; Geoffrey Cuming. Allison Park, PA: Pickwick, 1984 (companion volume to previous title).
  • Liturgy in the Reformed Tradition / Oepke Noordmans, 1871-1956; Ruben Alvarado, Transl. Aalten, the Netherlands: Pantocrator Press/ Wordbridge Publishing, 2018.
  • Hidden Evil: A Biblical and Pastoral Response to Domestic Abuse / Eryl W. Davies.
    Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2019.

Misc. (Apologetics, Culture, Education, Music, Politics, Science, Work, World Religions, etc.)

  • Reforming Apologetics: Retrieving the Classic Reformed Approach to Defending the
    Faith / J. V. Fesko. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2019.
  • Contend: Defending the Faith in a Fallen World / Aaron Armstrong. Adelphi, MD:
    Cruciform Press, 2012.
  • The Problem of Poverty / Abraham Kuyper, 1837-1920; James W. Skillen. Sioux Center, IA: Dordt College Press, 2011.
  • The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age /Simon Schama. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988.
  • Good Arguments: Making Your Case in Writing and Public Speaking / Richard A. Jr.
    Holland. ; Benjamin K. Forrest. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2017.

20191108_214548

Denominational Resources

  • Acts of Synod of the Christian Reformed Church: 2019 / Christian Reformed Church in North America; Steven R. Timmermans, Executive Director. Grand Rapids, MI: Board of Publications of the Christian Reformed Church, 2019.
  • Acts of Synod and Yearbook of the Protestant Reformed Churches in America: 2019 /
    Ronald Van Overloop, Stated Clerk; Don Doezema. Grand Rapids, MI: Protestant
    Reformed Churches in America, 2019.
  • 2018 Directory of the United Reformed Churches in North America: Twentieth-second Annual Edition / Jody Luth; Synod of the United Reformed Churches in North America. Grandville, MI: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2018.

Dordt’s Theological Significance: “Saving the Reformation” – R. Godfrey

saving-reformation-godfrey-2019Fresh off the press is W. Robert Godfrey’s book commemorating the 4ooth anniversary of the great Synod of Dordt (1618-19) and especially her Canons. I have referenced Saving the Reformation: The Pastoral Theology of the Canons of Dordt previously, but now that I have the book in hand we can begin to examine its contents.

In this post we will listen to what Godfrey says in his Introduction to the book, taking a few quotations from that opening section:

…The Synod of Dort (1618-19), the greatest of the Reformed church assemblies, preserved the great heritage of the Reformation for the Calvinist churches. This synod is both interesting and significant, and its decisions are a theological and spiritual treasure for Christians. On the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of the synod, it is good to remember and be renewed in an appreciation of its accomplishments. But studying the canons is much more than a historical exercise. It will be spiritually profitable for Christians and churches today.

…In a profound sense, this synod saved the Reformation for the Reformed churches. While Lutherans would reject several elements of the canons, Calvinists saw clearly that a proper understanding of election was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone.’ The proper understanding of Christ’s atoning work was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘Christ alone.’ A proper understanding of the regenerating and preserving work of the Holy Spirit and of the Christian’s comfort in these doctrines was necessary to protect the Reformation’s ‘grace alone’ and ‘faith alone.’ Implicit in the canon’s conclusions is their commitment to the Reformation’s ‘Scripture alone’ as the only source of religious truth.

As the Reformation was a revival of biblical Augustinianism, so the Synod of Dort stands in the great Christian heritage that rejects Pelagianism and semi-Pelagianism. It stands in the tradition of Jesus against the Pharisees, Paul against the Judaizers, Athanasius against Arius, Augustine against Pelagius, and Luther against Erasmus. Dort against the Arminians continues this great commitment. The canons became the official teaching and sincere conviction of many churches and millions of Christians through the last four centuries [1-2].

The book consists of three main parts:

  1. Historical and Theological Background (2 chapters)
  2. The Canons of the Synod of Dort – A Pastoral Translation [a new translation by the author]
  3. An Exposition of the Canons of Dort (7 chapters)

The book closes with five appendices, including”Arminius: A New Look,” “An Outline of the Canons of Dort”, and “A New Translation of the Doctrinal Statement by the Synod of Dort on the Sabbath.”

You will also find the author giving a description of the Synod and his book in the short video below.

More on Dordt400: The PRC Seminary Conference, Dordt’s March Sessions, and “Grace and Assurance”

As the Reformed church world continues to mark the 400th anniversary of the great international Synod of Dordtrecht in the Netherlands (1618-19), we may note it here once more again. Dordt’s final session was on May 29, 1619, so we have a few months to remember and reflect.  Dordt-conf-flyer-speakers-colorFirst to note is the PRC Seminary’s Dordt400 Conference coming up in only a month – April 25-27. We hope you are planning to attend this significant event in Hudsonville, MI. The latest announcement serves as a powerful incentive:

Dordt400! April 25-27. Trinity PRC. The seminary-sponsored conference celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Great Synod is approaching! Please make plans to come to hear important speeches, see displays of 400-year-old artifacts from Dordt, learn the winners of the writing contest, and meet PRC friends coming from at least 10 different countries! Speakers are our seminary professors; Revs. B. Huizinga and W. Langerak; and Rev. A. Stewart (CPRC NI) and Rev. M. Shand (EPC Australia). Trinity PRC in Hudsonville, MI is our host. The conference will be live-streamed via Trinity’s website for those unable to attend. For more, see Dordt400.org.

Synod-of-Dort

The second thing to note is closely related. Prof. Douglas Kuiper has been writing special posts for the Seminary conference blog. Of special note are the short summaries of Dordt’s sessions he has provided. Much of this detail is new to me, and my own appreciation for Dordt’s careful and diligent work in answering the Arminian errors has grown tremendously.

Here are a few recent samples of his description of the Synod’s work during this month of March, only in 1619:

Session 110: Tuesday, March 12 PM
Synod read the last of the judgments regarding the first article of the Remonstrants–those of the deputies from Drenthe and from the Walloon churches.

Synod then turned to the judgments of the various delegations regarding the second article of the Remonstrants, which pertained to the extent and effectiveness of Christ’s work. Synod read the judgments of the delegations from Great Britain, the Palatinate, Hesse, and Switzerland. The last three delegations stated that when Scripture says Christ died for all, it means He died for the elect, not for every individual. For the elect, they added, His death effectively saved.

The delegates from Great Britain did not touch on this point. These delegates had realized earlier (session 74) that they were not agreed among themselves on the interpretation of their own creed, the Thirty-Nine Articles. This realization led them to ask advice from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He responded that the British delegates should not speak more specifically than did the Thirty-Nine Articles.

Session 118: Monday, March 18 AM
The Synod of Dordt had been in session for four full months. Due to sickness and other circumstances, the delegates from Brandenburg had never arrived (see session 3). At session 118, Synod received a letter from the Marquis of Brandenberg explaining the absence of his delegates. Convinced that Synod’s response to the Remonstrants would conform to the Reformed confessions, the Marquis asked Synod to send him its final judgment so that the clergy in his realm might sign it. The Acts of Synod do not indicate how Synod responded to this letter.

Synod continued to read the judgments of the various delegations regarding the third and fourth articles of the Remonstrants. At this session Synod read the judgments of the delegates from South Holland, North Holland, Zeeland, and Utrecht.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018Third, and finally, we reference again the new RFPA publication, Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Tonight we take a quotation from the author’s treatment of Article 5 of the Second Head of doctrine, where Dordt is linking the preaching of God’s salvation promise to the effectual, atoning death of His Son, Jesus Christ. After showing that God’s promise of salvation is particular (for elect believers only) and unconditional (without dependency on the actions of the sinner), McGeown shows that God wills that this gospel promise be widely preached – in contrast to what the Arminians claimed was possible for the truly Reformed.

This particular, unconditional promise must be preached. The heirs of God’s promise, the elect, must some to hear of it. Notice how the Canons explain this: ‘This promise…ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction.’ The promise of particular, but the preaching is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. With the promise a second truth must be preached, which is the command or the call: ‘This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published’ (emphasis added). The promise is particular, but the preaching with the command or call to repent and believe is promiscuous, general or unrestricted. This is the response of Dordt to hyper-Calvinism, which is the belief and practice that the gospel should not be preached promiscuously, but only to the elect or to supposedly sensible sinners. Those who show signs of regeneration or receptivity to the truth are, in the minds of hyper-Calvinists, sensible sinners. To none other will a hyper-Calvinist issue the command or call to repent and believe. [pp.166-67]

There’s more, of course, to this answer, but you can see what Dordt’s basic reply was. And that answer still needs to be sounded plainly, because there is so much confusion and error concerning the call of the gospel, and not only from the side of the hyper-Calvinists. Those who claim the free or well-meant offer with its two-track theology need also hear Dordt’s clear statements.

We encourage all who love the Reformed faith to read and benefit from McGeown’s Grace and Assurance.

Older Useful Works on the Synod/Canons of Dordt

SynodofDordt1618-19

This week we are focusing on the Synod of Dordt and her work in connection with her 400th anniversary (1618-19/2018-19). Two days ago we looked at some of the new items being produced and published in connection with that historic event. Tonight we will look at a few of the older but still valuable books from the past.

The PRC Seminary library has several older works in Dutch, of course, and one could wish that some of these were translated or could be translated. One such work marks the 350th anniversary of Dordt and is a colorful illustrated history of Dordt.

But there are also plenty available in English, some major works and other minor. Here are a few.

The Deeper Faith: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort by Gordon Girod (former pastor of Seventh Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, MI), Baker Book House.

crisis in reformed chruches-py-dejongCrisis in the Reformed Churches: Essays in Commemoration of the Great Synod of Dort, ed. by Peter Y. DeJong. One finds this description online:

Forty years ago the Board of Reformed Fellowship commissioned nine men, who today would be considered a ‘Who’s Who’ in Reformed theology, to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Synod of Dort. Under the leadership of the editor, Dr. Peter Y. De Jong, these giants in the faith wrote on a variety of topics regarding this great event in Reformed history. Their contributions brought to the Christian community a greater understanding of the history and necessity of the Synod of Dort, the key figures involved in the Synod, and the application of the decisions made at the Synod to the tumultuous times within the church during the sixties. Each article reflected not only the expertise of the writer, but also his love for the Reformed faith…” With these words Wybren Oord, editor of The Outlook, begins the introduction to this new printing of Crisis in the Reformed Churches. Contributing authors: Peter Y. DeJong– pastor for several churches in the CRC; Professor of Practical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary; one of the founders of Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Simon Kistemaker– Professor of New Testament Emeritus, RTS; past president and secretary-treasurer, Evangelical Theological Society. Fred H. Klooster– professor of Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. John Murray–professor of Systematic Theology and co-founder, Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia. Edwin H. Palmer– minister in the CRC; professor at Westminster Theological Seminary; executive secretary, Committee on Bible Translation (NIV). Louis Praamsma– minister in the CRC; professor of Church History, Calvin Theological Seminary. Klaas Runia– professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological College, Geelong, Australia; professor of Practical Theology, Theological Seminary, Kampen, Netherlands. Cornelius Van Til– professor of Apologetics, Westminster Theological Seminary. Marten H. Woudstra– professor of Old Testament, Calvin Theological Seminary; translator, NIV.

but-for-the-grace-of-god_venemaBut For the Grace of God: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort by Cornel Venema, about which we find this information on the Reformed Fellowship website:

Dr. Cornel Venema, President and Professor of Doctrinal Studies at Mid-America Reformed Seminary, clearly and engagingly leads the reader not only to understand the background and the doctrine of the Canons of Dort but also to see how its faithful exposition of biblical truth gives us great comfort and confidence in God’s promises.

• Nine chapters, with study questions after each chapter
• Excellent resource for study groups
• Includes the full text of the Canons of Dort.

revisiting-dordt-lieburgA larger work is Revisiting the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), ed. by A. Goudriaan and F. Lieburg (Brill, 2010), part of Brill’s Series in Church History (V. 49). The publisher has this information on this title:

The Synod of Dordt (1618-1619), the international assembly which ended the yearslong dispute between Arminians and Calvinists, was a defining event in the history of the Dutch Republic. This collected volume presents new facts and analyses concerning the Synod, its context, and its legacy. It includes contributions on the Synod’s international character (Genevan delegation, James Ussher), biased historiography ( John Hales and Walter alquanquall), scholasticism ( Johannes Maccovius), philosophical ramifications, and Arminian theology. New, manuscript-based details about the formation of the Canons of Dordt are presented. Other papers examine the Canons’ ascendency to confessional status, intentional pastoral style, and view on the salvation of infants. Finally, its reception in the Dutch context as reflected in prints and printed works is mapped out.

voice-of-father-hch

Last, but not least, we also want to call attention to another RFPA publication on Dordt and her Canons – Voice of Our Fathers: An Exposition of the Canons of Dordrecht by Homer C, Hoeksema (2nd revised ed.).

We hope these books lists will encourage you to do some serious reading on Dordt and her work, as we remember God’s preserving work through His church in the 17th century.

Book Alert! New Release from the RFPA – “Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt”

While the Reformed Free Publishing Association was heralding the news of the arrival of their newest book last week on their blog, I had to wait until yesterday to receive my personal copy and the copies for the PRC Seminary library. And, yes, the book is a “beauty,” inside and out.

Grace_and_Assurance_mcgeown-2018The new release is Grace and Assurance: The Message of the Canons of Dordt, written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor laboring in Limerick Reformed Fellowship on behalf of Covenant PRC in Ballymena, N. Ireland.

The title is clearly timed to coincide with and celebrate the “great Synod” of Dordt (1618-19), the four-hundredth anniversary of which is being marked by many Reformed churches and Christians this Fall and into next year. (Just a reminder that the PRC Seminary is sponsoring a special conference on Dordt next Spring.)

The publisher gives this brief description of this wonderful volume:

In 1618-19 the great Synod of Dordt met to counter the Arminian error that was threatening the peace and welfare of the Reformed churches in the Netherlands. The fruit of their deliberations was the Canons of Dordt, a creed which has defined the Calvinist, Reformed faith for centuries.

This accessible commentary on the Canons leads readers through the comforting message of the creed: being wholly saved by God’s grace—not one’s own merit—comes with the steadfast assurance of eternal and unchangeable election.

  • 384 pages
  • hardcover
  • ISBN 978-1-944555-39-9

At the beginning the book includes a “historical introduction to the Synod of Dordt” as well as a introductory section on “the importance of creeds.” The end of each main section of commentary (on the five “heads of doctrine”) includes study questions, enhancing the books use and encouraging careful study of the main points of Calvinism treated by the Canons and explained in the commentary.

The end of the book includes a section on the “conclusion to the Canons” and three appendices:

  • The Remonstrance of 1610
  • The Opinions of the Remonstrants 1618
  • The Judgment of the Synod of Dort Concerning the Five Articles of the Arminians

To close tonight’s introduction to the book, we give you this brief quote made about Article 2 of the First Head (on predestination and salvation being rooted in God’s love):

It is striking that the Canons treatment of salvation begins with the love of God. Perhaps if you are new to the Reformed faith or if you have only encountered caricatures of it, you are surprised because you have heard that the Reformed faith makes little of the love of God. But the Reformed faith actually extols and highly celebrates the love of God.

…According to article 2, God’s love was ‘manifested.’ God’s love cannot remain hidden eternally within the mind of God, but it must display itself. The chief display of God’s love, declare the Canons, is in the sending of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to save sinners [pp.30-31].

Look for more on this book in the months to come as we too commemorate Dordt’s 400th.

PRC Seminary Dordt 400 Conference: The Website Is Up!

SynodofDordt1618-19

Next Spring (April 25-27, 2019) the PRC Seminary with help from Trinity PRC’s Evangelism Committee, will sponsor a major conference marking the 400th anniversary of the “Great Synod” of Dordt (1618-19).

Recently a new website was launched to promote the event and highlight the history and significance of Dordt – dort400.org – and the following announcement was sent out to advertise the event:

Dordt 400: Trinity PRC is hosting a 3-day conference for the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dordt on April 25-27.   Mark your calendars and visit our website at dordt400.org

The Dordt 400 Conference includes a Writing Contest with great prizes.  If you are looking for a way to use your writing skills, visit our website at dordt400.org and start working on your essay.

Dordt400LogoRightMargin2

The website also has a blog, where you will find the first post to be a summary of the important dates involving the Synod of Dordt, penned by the seminary’s new professor, Douglas J. Kuiper and published in the August issue of the Standard Bearer. We reproduce that here for your interest.

The Synod of Dordt met from November 1618 to May 1619.

1604: Two professors at Leiden, Jacobus Arminius and Franciscus Gomarus, publicly debate the doctrine of predestination.

1607: Church delegates gather for a national synod to settle the issue. The national government refuses to call a national synod, in part because it is preoccupied with war against Spain. At this time, the national government sympathizes with the Arminians.

1610: Some Arminian sympathizers write five position statements. The statements are called the Remonstrance, and the Arminians became known as the “Remonstrants,” because the word “remonstrate” can mean to present a written demonstration of error or protest. The five heads of the Canons correspond to the Remonstrance.

1611: A conference between Remonstrants and Counter-Remonstrants (representing the truly Reformed position) fails to help settle the issue.

1617, Nov: The national government, now opposed to the Arminians, approves calling a national synod.

1618, Oct. 17: The national government designated this day one of fasting and prayer for God’s blessing on the synod.

1618, Nov. 13: Synod begins. It treats matters of Bible translation, Heidelberg Catechism preaching, baptism of slave children in the Dutch East Indies, and the training of ministers.

1618, Dec. 6: Synod begins treating the Arminian controversy.

1619, Jan. 14: President Bogerman dismisses the Arminians with a memorable speech.

1619, Mar. 25-Apr. 16: Synod recesses while a committee drafts the Canons of Dordt. The word “Canons” refers to a rule or standard; the Synod of Dordt adopted the Canons of Dordt as the standard of orthodoxy regarding the five contested points of doctrine.

1619, May 6: The date on which the Canons were officially adopted in their final form.

1619, May 9: The foreign delegates are dismissed. Synod adopts the Church Order, an official translation of the Belgic Confession, the liturgical forms, and the Formula of Subscription. It also gives its pronouncements regarding Sabbath observance.

1619, May 29: Synod adjourns.

We hope you will plan to attend and participate in every way you can. Subscribe to the blog posts and look for more content to be added in the months leading up to the conference.

And, yes, look for some books and other items of interest on this synod and its anniversary here in the months ahead too. Here’s one you may start with, currently offered at a 40% discount from the publisher:

voice-of-father-hch

The Good God and the “Problem” of Evil (3)

no-other-macarthur-2017We conclude tonight our look at chapter three of John MacArthur’s recent book None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible (Reformation Trust, 2017). In this chapter MacArthur presents the biblical reply to the perennial question of how the good and powerful God of the Christian faith relates to all the evil, pain, and suffering in the world.

Last time we looked at this chapter we saw how the author explained that God is absolutely sovereign over all things, including evil – evil events, evil people, and evil angels (Satan and his host – he points to Job and Peter as biblical examples). But we also said we would return to hear his answer to the questions of why and to what end or purpose God determines and controls evil. In his own words, “Why did God permit evil in the first place? Why does He sovereignly, willingly allow it to keep infecting and distorting His creation? In His unfolding, preordained plan, what is the presence of evil accomplishing?”

To which he answers in the first place:

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul gives us the answer. He writes, ‘If our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say?’ (Rom.3:5). Our unrighteousness demonstrates (Greek sunistemi) the righteousness of God.

…Unrighteousness therefore puts God’s righteousness on display. Paul again says, ”But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while were were yet sinners, Christ died for us’ (Rom.5:8). The presence of sin allows God to demonstrate His righteousness and love. How else could He show the character of His great love that rescues enemies and sinners if there were no enemies and sinners? ‘What if God, although willing [i.e., determining] to demonstrate [Greek endeiknumi] His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?’ (Rom.9:22). He demonstrates His righteousness against the backdrop of sin and evil, showing, by contrast, how utterly holy He is. God demonstrates His love at a level that would have been impossible without sin. We see and appreciate the radiance of God’s love more, having endured the darkness and distress of a universe cursed by evil. ‘The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them’ (Isa.9:2). The presence of evil provided the perfect opportunity for God to display His wrath and justice along with His redeeming grace and infinite mercy, as He loved sinners enough to send His Son to die in their place.

And, as he goes on to show, the second and more important reason is that God might glorify Himself. Referring again to Romans 9:22, he writes:

Literally, the verse’s phrasing is ‘God determined to demonstrate for Himself.’ God demonstrates His attributes for the sake of His own glory. Without sin, God’s wrath would never be on display. Without sinners to redeem, God’s grace would never be on display. Without evil to punish, God’s justice would never be on display. And He has every right to put Himself everlastingly on display in all the glory of all His attributes. [pp.62-63].

A Christian Apology: “Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair.” B. Pascal

174. Not only is it impossible to know God without Christ, but it is useless also. They are drawn closer to him, not further away. They are not humbled, but as it is said, ‘The better one is, the worse one becomes, if one ascribes his excellence to one’s self.’ [Bernard of Clairvaux, The Song of Songs, 84].

175. To know God without knowing our own wretchedness only makes for pride. Knowing our own wretchedness without knowing God makes only for despair. Knowing Jesus Christ provides the balance, because he shows us both god and our own wretchedness.

176. The whole universe teaches man that he is either corrupt or redeemed. Everything around him shows him his greatness or his wretchedness. God’s abandonment can be seen in the heathen; God’s protection is evidenced in the Jews.

177. Everything around us shows man’s wretchedness and God’s mercy, as well as man’s helplessness without God, and man’s power with God.

Mind-on-fire-pascalBlaise Pascal (1623-1662) in his Pensees (Christian apology, that is, defense of the Christian faith) as found in the anthology of his writings The Mind on Fire, part of the “Classics of Faith and Devotion” series published by Multnomah Press (1989), edited by James M. Houston, with an introduction by Os Guinness.

This quotation is taken from section XIV titled “The Transition from Human Knowledge to Knowing God” (p.151), picking up where we left off previously. I plan to post such portions of the Pensees throughout this year.

“Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or of our death, of God or of ourselves.” ~ B. Pascal

pascal-life-after-death

181. Without Christ man can only be sinful and wretched. With Christ man is freed from sin and wretchedness. For in him is all our virtue and happiness. Apart from him there can only be vice, wretchedness, error, darkness, death, and despair.

182. Not only do we know God only through Jesus Christ, but we know ourselves only through Jesus Christ. We know life and death only through Jesus Christ. Apart from Jesus Christ we cannot know the meaning of our life or of our death, of God or of ourselves. Without Scripture, whose only object is to proclaim Christ, we know nothing, and we can see nothing but obscurity and confusion in the nature of God and in nature itself.

Mind-on-fire-pascalBlaise Pascal (1623-1662) in his Pensees (Christian apology, that is, defense of the Christian faith) as found in the anthology of his writings The Mind on Fire, part of the “Classics of Faith and Devotion” series published by Multnomah Press (1989), edited by James M. Houston, with an introduction by Os Guinness.

This quotation is taken from section XV titled “The Corruption of Human Nature,” p.153.

The Origin and Presence of False Teaching – April 2018 “Tabletalk”

A week into the new month of April, we are due to take a glance at the latest issue of Tabletalk magazine.

The April issue has the timely subject of “False Teaching” as its focus, with four main articles on it: the one in the heading to this post (which we will get to in a few lines); “False Teaching and Out There and In Here” (by Sean M. Lucas), “False Teaching and the Peace and Purity of the Church” (by Eric Landry), and “Teaching the Truth” (by John Macarthur).

Burk Parsons  introduces this important subject with his editorial “Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing,” from which we quote this portion:

False teachers creep into the church not because they look like false teachers but because they look like angels. They disguise themselves just as their master Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. When false teachers attempt to creep into the church, they typically don’t look like wolves because they wear sheep costumes and use some of the same language that the sheep use. They regularly quote Scripture, and they are often able to quote more Scripture than the average Christian. False teachers are not always argumentative or divisive; often they are some of the nicest people we know. They usually creep in not with scowls on their faces but with big smiles. They don’t normally creep into churches and teach obvious heresies and falsehoods; they usually subtly question the truth and teach partial truths, and they are not always identified by what they actually teach but by what they leave out of their teaching. They often speak of Jesus, salvation, the gospel, and faith, but they twist the words and concepts of Scripture to fit their own versions of the truth, which is no truth at all. They typically don’t attempt to creep into churches where the Word of God is preached boldly and passionately, in season and out of season, and where the people are eager for the sound preaching of Scripture and are growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rather, they usually target those churches where people are indifferent to doctrine and apathetic about the preaching of the Word of God.

Those chilling words (they should send chills down our spines!) set the stage for the serious, informative articles that follow. The one we headline tonight is “The Origins and Presence of False Teaching” by Fred Greco, senior pastor of Christ Church (PCA) in Katy, Texas. I reference two places in his considerable article on the subject – one at the beginning and one at the end.

At the beginning of the article Greco makes a powerful point about not ignoring the seriousness of false teaching, no matter how sound our church is and we are as members. Hear him out on this point:

False teaching is a real threat to the church. False teaching is not a threat only in certain circumstances, or only in churches with certain governmental structures, or only in certain places and cultures in the world. We must recognize it as a threat because the Bible continually warns us that it is a threat.

And then after quoting several Scriptures proving this, he writes further:

The Bible’s testimony about false teaching should make it clear that we are not invulnerable to this threat. When we are tempted to think we are beyond such threats because we have it all together, we will do well to remember the Apostle Paul’s warning to the Corinthian church, which thought it was beyond the errors that had sprung up during the days of Old Testament Israel: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). If doctrinal aberrations can spring up in churches that were nurtured with the teachings of the Apostles, what makes us think we are immune? Paul had to warn the Galatians about false teaching on the central doctrine of the faith—how man is justified before God—when the generation of disciples that were taught directly by Jesus was still walking the earth. How, then, can we afford to be complacent?

Subsequently, Greco makes good points about how false teaching can enter the church: “the desire for new teaching;” “overreaction to error;” and “the desire to avoid criticism.” But with that he also points out why false doctrine “takes root,” directing us to three things: “lack of Bible knowledge and discernment among the people;” “failure to hold people accountable for their false teaching;” (in other words, a lack of discipline) and a lack in the leadership of the church.

It is that last point that we reference in our second quote from this article:

There is a third contributor to the advance of false teaching in the church, and it is related to leadership. Even when the people of God are eager to study His Word and the church is prepared to exercise discipline, false teaching can flourish when the leadership of the church is ill prepared and poorly trained. The lower we set our standards for training pastors and elders for the ministry, the less prepared they will be to recognize false teaching. Pastors and elders who are untrained in historical theology will miss the reappearance of ancient false teaching in modern clothing. Those who have not been trained well in the Bible, its languages, and principles of its sound interpretation may fall prey to novel teachings that seem to explain away problems or contradictions. To combat false teaching, the church needs pastors, elders, and teachers who are both willing and able to confront falsehood (Titus 2:8; 1 Peter 2:15).

That too should give us reason to pause and ponder the state of our church(es) and of ourselves personally. Are we and am I prepared to detect and refute false teaching when it comes at us?

Yes, only by grace, through Christ, but also using the means He gives us by that same powerful grace.

By all means read the rest of the article at the link below, as well as the others on the subject on this month’s issue. They will help you whet your sword and raise your shield for the fiery darts that are sure to come.

Source: The Origin and Presence of False Teaching