The Story of P&R Publishing

Ever wondered how Christian publishing company P&R got its start? Do you remember its original name – Presbyterian and Reformed? And did you realize that in its early years it also published a journal called Christianity Today?

This history of P&R was recently posted on their website (July 7, 2016) and I found it quite interesting. I am personally grateful for such Christian publishing companies, and P&R continues to be true to its mission after 86 years. Our Seminary library has titles from those early years of publication and continues to purchase their books to this day.

Read on and be informed – and grateful for such Christian companies.

Below is a start to the article; visit the link at the bottom to read the rest.
In 1930 former Presbyterian minister Samuel G. Craig (1874–1960) was forced to leave his five-year term as editor-in-chief of The Presbyterian. The denominational paper dismissed Craig after he threw his support behind J. Gresham Machen, who had founded Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia in response to Princeton Seminary’s modernist reorganization in 1929. Along with Machen, Craig founded The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co. in May 1930 to produce a needed conservative answer to the liberal-leaning Presbyterian. The company started publishing a monthly journal called Christianity Today, then priced at $1 for a yearly subscription. The journal featured articles on Christianity and theology, book reviews, sermons, news in the Presbyterian church, and letters to the editor (see archived issues at http://www.pcahistory.org/HCLibrary/periodicals/CT/v01.html).

Source: The Story of P&R – P&R

Published in: on July 13, 2016 at 6:53 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Literary Traits of the Bible (3) – L.Ryken

GuidetoClassics-LRykenAs we continue to look at Leland Ryken’s recent publication A Christian Guide to the Classics (Crossway, 2015), we are considering the content of chapter 4, in which Ryken treats the greatest classic of literature, the Bible.

Previously, we looked at what this means in general (that the Bible is a literary classic). Then we considered some objections that can be raised when viewing the Bible this way. For the third and final time we consider some of the literary traits of the Bible, which are what Ryken discusses in the next section.

This is how he describes the third trait of the Bible as classic literature:

In addition to taking human experience as its subject matter and packaging it in familiar literary genres [the first two literary traits of the Bible], the Bible is literary in its style. Regardless of its specific genre, a literary text displays special resources of language that set it apart from ordinary expository writing. Literary writing flaunts its figures of speech, its rhetorical patterning (with techniques such as repetition and contrast), and its stylistic flair. Literary authors are wordsmiths, and their writing has an aphoristic sparkle that makes it striking and unforgettable. The Bible is the most aphoristic book that we know, and it naturally rises to the level of literary discourse as a result.

And then Ryken concludes this section with this comment and fine quote:

More could be said about the literary nature of the Bible, but all that is required here is to establish the place of the Bible in the category that this book covers, namely literary classics. A good summary statement comes from C.S. Lewis: ‘There is a… sense in which the Bible, since it is after all literature, cannot properly be read except as literature; and the different parts of its as the different sorts of literature they are’ (Reflections on the Psalms), [pp.39-40].

Published in: on July 12, 2016 at 6:53 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Birds’ Habitat – and Man’s

Barred-Owl-ClarksonLast week on my summer reading list I referenced a bird-watching book by Margaret Clarkson. Today I would like to give you another glimpse of how she handles this subject and the applications she makes to the Christian life.

In chapter five of Conversations With a Barred Owl (Zondervan, 1975; 115 pp.), Clarkson treats the special subject of bird habitats in connection with her chapter on loons. She writes at the beginning,

All living things, including man himself, can exist only in a particular environment. A study of habitat and the ways in which each species is adapted to life in its own element is both fascinating and rewarding.

Then, after describing in more detail some of the habitats of the bird world, she ends with these comments, including a wise application for us:

When a bird has found the habitat wherein by ceaseless endeavor it is possible for him to meet all his necessary needs, that bird will flourish, for he is functioning in his true environment. There and there only will he nest and produce his young; there alone will he know freedom, joy, and total harmony throughout all his being. In total fusion with his world, he finds his destiny – total fulfillment of that for which he was made.

Man’s natural environment is God. If we would realize that destiny for which we were created and redeemed, we must find it in God through Jesus Christ. Nowhere else can we ever be truly and completely at home. Why is it that we are so much slower than God’s feathered children to realize and adapt to our soul’s true habitat (p.25)?

Shall we strive to live in our proper spiritual habitat today as God’s children?

Not Ready for Church – J. Thorn

The title above heads a weekend devotional written by pastor Joe Thorn and published in the June 2016 issue of Tabletalk.

churchatsunriseThe following is taken from this profitable article and contains Thorn’s counsel for those times when we do not feel ready to go to church and worship. His thoughts are based on Psalm 73:16-17:

When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me; Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

Here are some of thoughts:

…There are those Sundays when we feel as though we are not ready for worship. Our hearts are cold, our week was fraught with failure, and the idea of ‘going to church’ seems to be an exercise in futility if not an act of hypocrisy. Somehow, we believe the lie that it is better to stay home and try again next week when our hearts will be right. But the troubled soul is meant for corporate worship, and that is exactly where we need to be [At this point Thorn quotes Ps.73:16-17).

…The person who is slow to draw near to God because of sin or doubt is the person who will not find hope. Such is the man whose faith only continues to wither and whose strength continues to weaken, for in pulling back from the Lord and the means of grace, we deny ourselves access to the primary way in which God speaks to our hearts and lives. Staying home and licking our wounds does not heal but callouses the soul, making us increasingly less sensitive to the truth we need to hear.

The local church assembled for worshiping our triune God is the place where God’s Word and Spirit are at work to move us to repentance, revive our hearts, instruct our minds, and reveal to us the plan and purpose of God in all things.

…When we are not ready for church, we must remember that the church is ready for us. Jesus is ready for us. And grace abounds for the sinner who is willing to come to Christ (p.57).

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.:)

Reformed Witness Hour 1000th Program

Yesterday Rev. R.Van Overloop paid me a visit in my Seminary office and brought some significant PRC archive items from a member of his church (Thanks to Phyllis King!).

Among the items was the “Souvenir Program of the 1000th Broadcast of the Reformed Witness Hour”, the actual program of which was recorded and “broadcast  our Radio Stations on Sunday, March 11, 1962.” I did not remember seeing this program before and I didn’t even check yet to see if our archives has it. But I did scan it and feature it today on our PRC history/archives day.

One more item to call attention to as we celebrate the RWH’s 75th anniversary this year (also with the special program on August 13 in Georgetown PRC – cf. this post about that).

Enjoy the inside and outside of this program marking of the RWH’s 1000th broadcast!

RWH-1000th-broadcast-1

RWH-1000th-broadcast-2

Published in: on July 7, 2016 at 9:52 PM  Leave a Comment  

My Own Summer Reading List for 2016

My personal stack of books to read for this summer started growing this Spring, as did my reading of them (one can never start early enough!). After a winter of some heavier reading (those cold, dark nights stimulate the brain better!), I have added a collection of lighter books for my summer reading. But even these are stimulating my mind and soul well!

Here is my list in the order in which I obtained them, but not necessarily in which I am reading them (all are started now!):

Pope-Last-Crusade-EisnerHere is the publisher’s summary:

Drawing on untapped resources, exclusive interviews, and new archival research, The Pope’s Last Crusade by Peter Eisner is a thrilling narrative that sheds new light on Pope Pius XI’s valiant effort to condemn Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich—a crusade that might have changed the course of World War II.

A shocking tale of intrigue and suspense, illustrated with sixteen pages of archival photos, The Pope’s Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI’s Campaign to Stop Hitler illuminates this religious leader’s daring yet little-known campaign, a spiritual and political battle that would be derailed by Pius’s XIs death just a few months later. Peter Eisner reveals how Pius XI intended to unequivocally reject Nazism in one of the most unprecedented and progressive pronouncements ever issued by the Vatican, and how a group of conservative churchmen plotted to prevent it.

  • Honor: A History by James Bowman (Encounter Books, 2006; 381 pp.). This is our latest book club selection, and I am just getting started on it. This is not such light reading, but it will be profitable. Here’s the description in this one:

The importance of honor is present in the earliest records of civilization. Today, while it may still be an essential concept in Islamic cultures, in the West, honor has been disparaged and dismissed as obsolete. In this lively and authoritative book, James Bowman traces the curious and fascinating history of this ideal, from the Middle Ages through the Enlightenment and to the killing fields of World War I and the despair of Vietnam. Bowman reminds us that the fate of honor and the fate of morality and even manners are deeply interrelated.

  • Conversations With a Barred Owl by Margaret Clarkson (Zondervan, 1975; 115 pp.). This thrift store find is a fascinating “nature” read – another type of book I like to read in the summertime. If you are familiar with Clarkson’s poetry and inspirational writings, you know that she is a fine Christian writer (Grace Grows Best in Winter).

Barred-Owl-ClarksonAs the title hints, this is a “confession of a new bird watcher,” and fellow bird watcher John R.W. Stott writes a complimentary foreword. Clarkson herself says in her Preface:

All of life is one, springing from the boundless, creative life of God. I venture to say that there is no natural phenomenon from which we may not learn something enriching about ourselves and our God and the Creature-creature relationship we share. Certainly there is much to be learned spiritually from a study of ornithology.

The few chapters I have read on the yellowthroat, vireo, and loon demonstrate the truth of what she says.

Republocrat-Trueman-2010I knew this book was out there, but it took processing Prof.D. Engelsma’s library to put it in my hands and dig into in. An election year and the prospect of reading Trueman on the Christian and politics added this title to my summer reading list. If you want to be challenged and perhaps become a little unnerved, read Trueman. But you will be led to think things through biblically and be a better believer because of it.

  • A False Spring by Pat Jordan ( Dodd, Mead & Co., 1973; 277 pp.). You knew there had to be a baseball book in here, didn’t you?! Well, this is it!

Another older work (like last summer’s) but it comes highly recommended. This is the true story of the author’s short-lived professional baseball career (the first chapter will already break your heart!), such that he went back to university and completed an English degree. After teaching for a few years, he became a free-lance writer, contributing to such magazines as Sports Illustrated. I just received my used in the mail yesterday, but the little I have read shows the writer has honed his skills well.

Here is a little about his story:

In A False Spring, Pat Jordan traces the falling star of his once-promising pitching career, illuminating along the way his equally difficult personal struggles and quest for maturity. When the reader meets Jordan, he is a hard-throwing pitcher with seemingly limitless potential, one of the first “bonus babies” for the Milwaukee Braves organization. Jordan’s sojourn through the lower levels of minor-league ball takes him through the small towns of America: McCook, Waycross, Davenport, Eau Claire, and Palatka. As the promised land of the majors recedes because of his inconsistency and lack of control, the young man who had previously known only glory and success is forced to face himself.

Now, what are YOU reading this summer? Do these lists give you some incentive and ideas? I hope so. Tolle lege!

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Good Books for Warm Days – Dr.Al Mohler’s Summer Reading List for 2016

I nearly forgot to feature Dr. Al Mohler’s annual summer reading list! But then I was looking at my own summer reads and remembered. So today is the day to call attention to Mohler’s varied list of good reads for the sizzling season of summer.

Pick out a good one in your area of interest, grab a deck chair or the hammock,  and read on! There’s lots of summer left. And tomorrow I promise you my own list, so you will have some more ideas.:)

Here is part of Mohler’s introduction to his list:

Different seasons seem to bring different ambitions and opportunities for reading. Summer offers an excuse to read books we set aside in colder months, in hope.

My summer reading stack has multiplied into stacks, but in this list I share ten that I have found particularly interesting, timely, and worth the investment of summer hours. As usual for this annual list, the books are non-fiction and tilted toward history. I read a lot of fiction, but I find novels more difficult to recommend in any concise form. I also admit that my most relaxing reading comes in the form of an historical work that helps make sense of the world.

And here is one that I noted for reading too, since I have read several of this author’s sailing/sea adventure books:

4. Nathaniel Philbrick, Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution (Viking).

philbrickNathaniel Philbrick is one of the best writers of history in this generation. In Valiant Ambition, Philbrick considers the complex relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. If Washington is the nation’s famed “indispensable man,” Benedict Arnold is America’s icon of villainy — the paradigmatic traitor. Valiant Ambition tells the story of that crucial period in the American Revolution when Washington did not yet have total control of his forces — much less the tides of history. He traces the relationship, deeply personal and often puzzling, between Washington and Arnold, and Philbrick makes clear that the Revolutionary War was anything but an inevitable American victory. This, too, is a story that needed telling, and the legacies of both George Washington and Benedict Arnold are filled with lessons as well as interest.

Source: Good Books for Warm Days – The Summer Reading List for 2016 – AlbertMohler.com

Happy 240th Birthday, America!

As we U.S. citizens celebrate our country’s 240th birthday today, this little historical note on why July 4 became our “Independence Day” from “Today I Found Out” is instructive.

We should never forget the history behind our independence, nor how God has used this liberty to bless and preserve His church and people in this land. And may we as God’s people count it a blessing to belong to this great land, while also remembering that our true liberty is in Christ and His glorious kingdom of grace.

Have a wonderful 4th!

Why the 4th of July was Chosen as Independence Day in the United States

While it is often said that the Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776, this isn’t actually correct. In fact, nobody signed it on the 4th. This is contradictory to Thomas Jefferson’s, John Adams’, and Benjamin Franklin’s account of events. On top of their accounts, the public congressional record of events back their story. So how do we know it didn’t happen this way?

To begin with, the Secret Journals of Congress that were eventually made public in 1821 paint a different story. They contain an entry stating, on August 2nd: “The declaration of independence being engrossed & compared at the table was signed by the Members.”

Now if this was the only evidence, one might lean towards a typo in the journal and believing the aforementioned three individuals and public congressional record. However, one of the other signers of the declaration, Thomas McKean, denied the July 4th signing date and backed it up by illustrating a glaring flaw in Jefferson’s, Adams’, and Franklin’s argument- namely, that most of the signers were not members of congress on July 4th and thus wouldn’t have been there to sign it. As McKean said in 1796: “No person signed it on that day nor for many days after.”

Further evidence comes from the interesting fact that the parchment version of the Declaration of Independence that is on display and kept in the United States National Archives wasn’t actually written until July 19th; this being a copy of the approved text that was announced to the world on July 4th, with about 150-200 copies being made on paper and distributed on that date (26 of which are still around today, thus pre-dating what is now generally thought of by most as the “original”).

This little tidbit also came from the Secret Journals of Congress which has an entry on July 19th stating: “Resolved that the Declaration passed on the 4th be fairly engrossed on parchment with the title and stile of ‘The unanimous declaration of the thirteen united states of America’ & that the same when engrossed be signed by every member of Congress.”

So, in the end, this signed document probably would have been copied by Timothy Matlack, Jefferson’s clerk, rather than penned by Jefferson himself, and certainly couldn’t have been signed on July 4th.

It’s also interesting to note that John Adams thought that July 2nd, not July 4th, would be celebrated in the future in the United States.  On July 3, 1776, in a letter to his wife, Abigail, Adams noted:

“The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”

So why did he think July 2nd would be Independence Day and how did July 4th end up getting the nod instead?  Because July 2nd is when the Second Continental Congress voted to approved a resolution of independence. Although nobody voted on or signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th,  that was the date the Declaration was announced to the world, and why it was ultimately chosen as Independence Day.

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]

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