Credo’s Cache

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. When Hope and History RhymeBy Tim Keller - Keller says: “History ends with resurrection. Resurrection is complete restoration, but only after death and destruction. This approach avoids the unbalanced optimism of modernity but also the hopelessness of dystopianism.”

2. Conflict is an Opportunity for GraceBy David Mathis- Mathis notes: “We’re quick to believe the lie that if we just avoid the conflict, or at least minimize it, then it will diminish over time and eventually go away. But wisdom speaks a different word. Sure, there are offenses we can forebear and personal frustrations we can get over, but interpersonal conflict doesn’t go away with inattention. It festers. It deepens. It curdles.”

3. The Sin We Don’t Speak OfBy Courtney Reissig – Reissig says: “In God’s eyes, sin is sin. No amount of human ordering changes that for him. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This sin is the great equalizer before him. There are no sins that are beyond his reach for cleansing and there are no sins that make us any better or worse in his eyes. Without Christ, the verdict is the same—guilty.”

 4. 4 Principles for Finishing WellBy Joe Keller – Keller says: “What are ways that we lean on our own understanding? What does it look like to trust in the Lord in those times without neglecting our responsibilities? What are some ways we can combat personal distractions to stay focused in the moment? What motivates you to work hard? How can you be an encouragement to others to work hard when it is hard to work hard?”

5. 10 Unforgettable Lessons on FatherhoodBy Ray Ortlund- Ortlund says: “In public, my dad was one of the great pastors of his generation. He served most notably for twenty fruitful years at Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena, where John and Noel Piper worshiped during their Fuller Seminary days. Dad and John were dear friends.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

New book by Michael A.G. Haykin: Baptists and War

Posted by on May 21, 2015 in Michael Haykin | No Comments
New book by Michael A.G. Haykin: Baptists and War

Credo Magazine contributor, Michael A.G. Haykin, has a new book out: Baptists and War: Essays on Baptists and Military Conflict, 1640s-1990s. Co-edited with Gordon Heath, who is Associate Professor of Christian History at McMaster Divinity College, this book is in the McMaster General Study series.

McMaster_GeneralSeriesCurious as to what this book is all about?

While Baptists through the years have been certain that “war is hell” they have not always been able to agree on how to respond to it. This book traces much of this troubled relationship from the days of Baptist origins with close ties to pacifist Anabaptists to the responses of Baptists in America to the war in Vietnam. Essays also include discussions of the English Baptist Andrew Fuller’s response to the threat of Napoleon, how Baptists in America dealt with the War of 1812, the support of Canadian Baptists for Britain’s war in Sudan and Abyssinia in the 1880s, the decisive effect of the First World War on Canada’s T. T. Shields, the response of Australian Baptists to the Second World War, and how Russian Baptists dealt with the Cold War. These chapters provide important analyses of Baptist reactions to one of society’s most intractable problems.

Here are two endorsements as well:

”Conflict challenges the Christian conscience, fostering divergent responses. Hence Baptists have commonly sought peace, sometimes to the extent of condemning war outright, but equally they have often believed that justice required the taking up of arms, even with enthusiasm. The detailed and penetrating international studies contained in this book illuminate contrasting attitudes over the centuries, showing how war has put Baptists to the test, spiritually as well as materially.”
–David Bebbington, Professor of History, University of Stirling, Stirling, Scotland,
UK

”Baptists have had a varied approach to war from the Pietist/Reformed tensions of four hundred years ago to the reactions to the Vietnam War. This work explores the theme in different time periods and, using a number of individuals as case studies, opens the past so the reader can reflect on the present. The volume is an important contribution to both Baptist studies and the Christian approach to war and peace.”
–Robert Wilson, Professor of Church History, Acadia Divinity College, Wolfville, Canada –Wipf and Stock Publishers

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Vengeance is Mine (Bruce Ware)

Posted by on May 20, 2015 in Magazine-The Forgotton God | No Comments
Vengeance is Mine (Bruce Ware)

In the new issue of Credo Magazine,“The Forgotten God,” Bruce A. Ware contributed an article called, “Vengeance is Mine: Suffering for the Gospel and the Certainty of the Judgment of the Non-elect.” Bruce Ware is T. Rupert and Lucille Coleman Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Dr. Ware is a highly esteemed theologian and author in the evangelical world. He came to Southern Seminary from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School where he served as Chairman of the Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology. Prior to this, he taught at Western Conservative Baptist Seminary and Bethel Theological Seminary. He has written numerous journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews and, along with Thomas Schreiner, has co-edited  Still Sovereign. He also has authored God’s Lesser Glory: The Diminished God of Open Theism;  God’s Greater Glory: The Exalted God of Scripture and the Christian Faith; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance; Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God; and The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflections on the Humanity of Christ.

bruce-a-wareHere is the start of his article:

Should the future suffering of the non-elect, particularly the future suffering of those who currently inflict suffering on the elect, play any part in a Christian’s comfort, or hope, or in his understanding of his own unjust sufferings?  Our intuitions, shaped so much by our contemporary culture, would lead us to answer, “no.”  How could our present comfort be based, even in part, on the recognition that those who currently inflict suffering on the godly will themselves be punished?  This seems just plain wrong.  It seems un-Christian.  And it seems contrary to the teaching of Christ himself.  After all, Jesus commanded his disciples, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).  And Jesus himself, while enduring the infinite injustice of his death on the cross by the hands of wicked men (Acts 2:23) spoke not words of retribution but forgiveness, saying “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).  So, surely a persecuted believer would be wrong to take comfort or hope in the realization that the wicked persecutors of the godly will themselves be punished.

Three Bible verses you won’t forget

As intuitive as this may seem to us, look with me at three other passages (the last of which we’ll explore in a bit more detail):

First, consider 1 Peter 2:21-24. Evidently Jesus himself — yes, the same Jesus who spoke the words we just considered in Matthew 5:44 and Luke 23:34 — took comfort in knowing that God his Father would bring vengeance on those who persecuted him. Listen to 1 Peter 2:21-24:

For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.

The key verse, of course, is v. 23.  Jesus did not retaliate when he was wronged, but what did he do instead?  He “kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.”  This means that Jesus consciously considered as good and right that God his Father would deal with the injustices that were occurring in his persecution.  He did not put this out of his mind; rather, he “kept entrusting” himself to the One who would “judge righteously,” i.e., to the One who would, in the future, bring justice to bear on those practicing injustice now.

So we conclude that Jesus could simultaneously “love his enemies” and hence not retaliate when wronged, while also entrusting to God the future judgment of these perpetrators of injustice; he could simultaneously pray forgiveness for these enemies, while consciously knowing that all who were not forgiven by the Father would face their day of reckoning.  Both were true in the self-consciousness of Jesus, not just the former of the two (1 Pet. 2:21-24).

Second, Paul’s admonitions in Romans 12:19-20 are also instructive.  He writes:

Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head” (Rom. 12:19-20).

Notice two things about this text. To begin with, Paul also encourages believers who are wronged not to take their own revenge, but instead to trust God who will execute his wrath and vengeance upon these ungodly wrongdoers.  So, as we saw with 1 Peter 21:23, the realization of the future judgment of God on those who now inflict unjust suffering is not meant to be resisted or squelched or dismissed as “ungodly” thinking; rather this realization is to be embraced as part of the very arsenal by which those unjustly persecuted may resist personal revenge.  They shouldn’t take revenge because God will!  And they should know this, contemplate it, and take strength and comfort in it in the midst of their own mistreatment.

Additionally, notice Paul’s juxtaposition of two OT passages:  Deuteronomy 32:35, where Moses (speaking on behalf of God) reminds the children of Israel that God will take vengeance on those who turn from him and his ways, and Proverbs 25:21-22, where we are instructed to do good our enemies, giving them food and drink instead of (implicitly) doing them harm.

This juxtaposition is very instructive.  It shows that one can simultaneously “love our enemies” while also “leaving room for the wrath of God” to come upon them.  One does not cancel out the other.  As we saw with Jesus, above, we too can simultaneously show kindnesses to our enemies (“if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink”) and hence not retaliate against them when wronged, while we can also entrust to God the future display of his vengeance upon those who carry out injustice against us (“leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord”).  Not only do these two not conflict, it is our confidence that God will repay that can contribute to freeing us up not to retaliate ourselves but rather show kindness and love to our enemies. …

Read the rest of this article today!


To view the magazine as a PDF click here

Credo April 2015 CoverLooking back on the first half of the twentieth century, H. Richard Niebuhr famously described liberal Christianity’s understanding of the gospel like this: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” Such a mentality has had its influence and still does today. There are certain Bible stories that you just don’t talk about, not even in church. For many people today, Bible stories having to do with divine wrath, anger, or jealousy are embarrassing. And yet, no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel, it is nearly impossible to get through a book (sometimes a chapter!) of the Bible without coming face to face with these forgotten attributes of God. In a culture that capitalizes on tolerance and love, a focus on divine judgment is considered harsh, even primitive. Gordon Rupp’s words still speak today when he said, “What it means to feel oneself under the Wrath of God is something that modern man can hardly understand.”

Though unpopular to do so, this issue of Credo Magazine aims to make you, the modern reader, feel the weight of these biblical attributes of God. They are forgotten attributes of God, no doubt about it. But our desire is that by the end of this issue you will see just how important these attributes are to the story of redemption and for knowing God in a saving way. As has often been said, it is impossible to relish the grace of God in the cross of Christ unless you first understand the condemnation you sit under as a rebel.

Contributors include Bruce Ware, David Murray, Erik Thoennes, Matthew Barrett, Fred Zaspel, Daniel Hyde, Cornelius Tolsma, Jessalyn Hutto, Michael A.G. Haykin, and many others.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Pew Research Center’s Report and church-less evangelism (Matt Claridge)

Posted by on May 19, 2015 in Culture, Ecclesiology | No Comments
The Pew Research Center’s Report and church-less evangelism (Matt Claridge)

The new research from the Pew Research Center’s Report on the decline of professing Christians is making the rounds on the relevant sites and blogs. Justin Taylor has highlighted Russell Moore’s thought-provoking response to the numbers. I find myself in agreement with Moore’s assessment, and thought I’d throw in a few more supports under the weight of his argument. Our church has been making its way through Ephesians, and we just passed by chapter 2:11-22 where Paul gives what I believe to be his third summary of the gospel from a “situational” perspective (to use John Frame’s categories). Paul gives a “normative” definition of the gospel in 1:3-14 (God’s perspective), and an “existential” definition of the gospel in 2:1-10 (our individual perspective); but in 2:11-22 Paul provides a view of the gospel in terms of its corporate, communal, and interpersonal impact and reach.

I want to highlight just one aspect of Paul’s community definition of the gospel as it speaks to the current decline of professing Christians in American culture. The fact that Paul brings up this third definition of the gospel is incredibly helpful and brings balance to our evangelistic efforts. We Evangelicals tend to focus exclusively on the doctrinal (normative) aspects of the gospel and tend to focus on individual conversion (existential) through one-on-one interaction. But Paul suggests in 2:11-22 that there is crucial third aspect to evangelism—community witness.

The broad strategy for evangelism we should take away from this passage in response to the news is this: our witness to the gospel as a community is greater than our witness as individuals. When it comes to evangelism, the whole church community is greater than the sum of its parts. You’ve heard the expression: it takes a village to raise a child. When it comes to evangelism, it takes a Christian community to win an unbeliever for Christ. As churches we need to pursue strategies that take into account just how critical our witness as a collective body is in bringing someone to Christ and indeed keeping someone for Christ.

Notice the image Paul uses to describe believes and their relationship to the church. He describes believers as basically individual building blocks which are then incorporated and fitted into something far greater, a temple, a house for God. The apostle Peter also uses this image in 1 Pet. 2:4-5. If all you had to look at is an individually shaped stone, you would really have no idea what its used for, or perhaps even what it is. Without a context, without seeing that piece in light of the grander design, its very difficult to know what it is. Its kind of like being a non-mechanic looking at an alternator for a car—it just looks like a random piece of machinery. Only when you seen it working and fitted its function in an automobile do you realize what it is and what its purpose is. It’s the same way with Christians. Christians outside of the Christian community are often ineffective in giving unbelievers any clue what it means to live as a Christian or what the goal of the Christian life really is. We vastly overestimate our own individual contribution to getting someone saved; it usually takes experiencing Christian community as the tipping point, the catalyst, to move someone all the way toward Christ.

8637804873_65431ee2a7_zNow, I’m sure we can all readily agree that the best way of reaching people is through a healthy Christian community, but I’m not so sure we really understand what is at stake. One big reason why we need to seriously think about how evangelism happens through a community is because our community, our tribe, our churches are becoming increasingly bizarre and unfamiliar to the outside world; and this growing unfamiliarity is only going to heighten the importance of maintaining a healthy community life in the church. For example, if I were an unbeliever being reached by the Mennonite community we have here in Grangeville Idaho, it would be very clear to me that to become a Christian does not just mean believing in Christ, it means changing my lifestyle, my social circles, and my culture in significant ways. I would not only mean identifying myself as a Christian, It would mean identifying myself as a Mennonite, a part of a new community that is very different from what I am used to. Now, if everyone in our secular culture wore plain clothes, if all women wore head coverings, if all men sported bushy beards, and all people lived fairly technology free lives, I would probably only think I was converting to Christianity, period. I wouldn’t feel the pinch of changing my lifestyle because I would already be familiar with it, and probably I already respect it. I would already be a cultural Mennonite that needs to become a practicing or faithful Mennonite.

Like it or not, mainstream, evangelical Christianity is going to, and it must if it is remain evangelical Christianity, look more and more like a Mennonite community. What we believe, how we live, and what we are preoccupied with is going to and ought to look increasingly different from the surrounding culture. There is less and less common ground between the church and the world. The church will be less and less familiar, and less and less respected. For people to come to Christ, it is going to feel like embracing an alien culture, a different way of living, a different way of thinking, and a different set of values.

You might say, “doesn’t everyone who comes to Christ count those types of costs?” Well, not necessarily, and you can see this when you compare how evangelism has been done for the past several centuries in America. As late as 20 years ago, you could give anyone on the street a simple gospel presentation and you could assume they understood most of your terms, and even posses a basic respect for the church. Going even further back 50 to 60 years ago, just about everyone had some history with the church. The evangelical church and American culture was still very closely intertwined, prayer and Bible study occurred in public schools, going to church on a regular basis was still considered a mark of being a good public citizen. Even when people didn’t live according to church teachings on marriage and lifestyle choices, there was a consensus that those moral standards were good and healthy. Most unbelievers were Christian unbelievers, atheists were Christian atheists, drunks were Christian drunks, murderers were Christian murders. That is, unbelievers really had to make a clear and obvious decision to reject the Christianity of their families and culture, even as they quoted their mother’s Bible. What that means for evangelism is that becoming a Christian didn’t require too much explanation and joining a church wasn’t all that difficult or a cause for tremendous soul-searching. When you got right with Christ, you finally submitted to what you respected in others all along, a life of integrity, community, service, and spiritual purpose. You were finally catching up with the mainstream Christianity of American culture. (Of course, there is a dark side to this cultural consensus as Moore points out. It incites hypocrisy as people begrudgingly conform to the moral expectations of Christian culture without the experience of actual conversion.)

Another example of this is the term “Revival,” used throughout American religious history. An evangelistic revival was certainly intended to bring many people to Christ through mass preaching; but the term itself suggests that a revival is about calling people back to Christianity. The term “revival” assumes that people once identified themselves as Christian, grew up in Christian homes, drunk from the wells of an American Christian culture, but needed to be revived, called back to a heritage that should be theirs. To go over to the Middle East and call an evangelistic campaign a “revival” wouldn’t really make sense, would it? They don’t need a revival, they need a Pentecost.

What I’m trying to do here is make us all aware that we can’t just tell people the simple gospel message and expect them to join the church without much ado. For an increasing number of unbelievers, its impossible to distinguish the gospel call to repentance and faith and the call to join a church—that foreign, weird, peculiar thing called the church—and to leave behind all that is comfortable, known, and accepted. The different values between their circle of friends and the church community are increasingly huge: different views about gender identity, different views about individual freedom, different views about family life, different views about what it means to have a good time, different views about basic courtesies and how you ought to relate to people. Today, you can’t just call someone to Christ, you have to call them to the church as well. Previously, you could assume they would jump right into Christian community, because it was respected and understood. We just can’t do that anymore. People who do respect and understand Christian community life are the anomalies. Those types of people probably grew up in Christianized or religious families. Our culture will more and more resemble a Muslim world where joining Christ means joining a community that is utterly different and hostile to the one you are used to.

What really is the tipping point for most people coming to Christ is not necessarily getting all their intellectual objections to the gospel overcome. More often the tipping point is when they feel more loyalty to a Christian community than they do to any other community. By loyalty, I don’t mean “brand loyalty”—that they feel like we provide the “services” they want. If the church tries to compete with the world in the area of “services” we will fail miserably. The world has more money, more resources, and honestly, sometimes more talent than we do.  We should certainly do what we can in making sure our bathrooms are clean and our gatherings well organized and compelling, but earning an unbeliever’s loyalty by being a friend to them, learning from them, and respecting them—that’s when the tipping point in their life is going to be reached. That’s when an unbeliever says, “I may not understand all that I’m getting into, but if I get into it with these people, I’ll be ok.”

Russell Moore is right: “The number of Americans who identify as Christians has reached an all-time low, and is falling. I think this is perhaps bad news for America, but it is good news for the church.” Evangelical ecclesiology has suffered irrelevance in the past precisely because of our “christianized” culture where one could get away with church-less evangelism. In the ever darkening horizon of Christendom, the time for the church to truly shine has come. Notice the plurals in Paul’s call to arms: “[live up to your title as] children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”

Matthew Claridge is an editor for Credo Magazine and is Senior Pastor of Mt. Idaho Baptist Church in Grangeville, ID. He has earned degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Cassandra and has two children, Alec and Nora.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Sunday's Sermon | No Comments
Sunday’s Sermon (Schreiner, Barrett, Zaspel)

Three of Credo Magazine’s main contributors include Thomas Schreiner, Fred Zaspel, and Matthew Barrett. Each of them are professors, but they are also pastors. So each Monday morning we will be highlighting their “Sunday’s Sermon” on the blog to provide you with encouragement throughout the week and an opportunity to study God’s Word.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Credo’s Cache

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Credo's cache | No Comments
Credo’s Cache

Each week we will be highlighting important resources. Check back each Friday to see what we have dug up for you. From this week’s cache:

1. 6 Reasons Why Membership MattersBy Kevin DeYoung - DeYoung says: “Membership matters more than most people think. If you really want to be a counter-cultural revolutionary, sign up for the membership class, meet with your elders, and join your local church.”

2. Either ‘Okay’ or ‘Thank You’By Jonathan Parnell - Parnell notes: “And then when we’re soaring, when we’re skipping along the mountain peaks of life, we stop, find a quiet place, and bawl our eyes out that God would be this kind to me — a sinner, a fool, a hopeless creature, if not for his mercy.”

3. Preaching When DistressedBy Adam McClendon – McClendon says: “Whether it’s a child’s death, marriage issue, betrayal of a confidence, medical diagnosis, pastoral friend who falls morally, or the general winter blues, every leader faces distressed moments in ministry. So, how can we prepare and preach faithfully in the midst of such moments? Here are five helpful recommendations.”

 4. Blessed Are Those Not Offended By ChristBy Jason Garwood – Garwood says: “As a pastor, this is the type of discipleship I strive to promote. It’s the hard stuff of life that shapes us into disciples of Christ. It’s calling people to endure through the trials and tribulations, that inevitably come our way. Don’t expect worldly success. It’s not attractive.”

5. The Joy of Church RevitalizationBy Ron Edmondson- Edmondson says: “We have seen God do some amazing things in our church the last three years. I’m humbled and honored to be a part of its history, and look forward to our future, celebrating what I believe could be the best years yet to come.”

Matt Manry is the Assistant Pastor at Life Bible Church in Canton, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Religion at Reformed Theological Seminary and a Masters of Arts in Christian and Classical Studies from Knox Theological Seminary.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Messages from TGC Conference 2015

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Announcement | No Comments
Messages from TGC Conference 2015

The Gospel Coalition has posted the videos from their plenary speakers and their messages. You will find them below, followed by the breakout sessions as well.

 

John Piper: "The Branch and Banner of David" (Isaiah 11; 65:17–25) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Don Carson: "The Lord Is There" (Ezekiel 40–48) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Augustus Nicodemus: "The Father's Home, and the Way There" (John 14:1–14) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Mark Dever: "The Day of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:13–5:11) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Thabiti Anyabwile, Tim Keller, John Piper, Don Carson: Panel from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Voddie Baucham: "Resurrection Life" (1 Corinthians 15:35–58) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Ligon Duncan: "Living in the Hope of Liberation from Bondage" (Romans 8:16–25) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Philip Ryken: "A New Heaven and a New Earth" (Revelation 21:1–22:5) from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Conference Special Event

Conference Workshops

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Barrett’s Book Notes: Reformed Dogmatics by Geerhardus Vos

Posted by on May 14, 2015 in Book Notes | No Comments
Barrett’s Book Notes: Reformed Dogmatics by Geerhardus Vos

When you hear the name Geerhardus Vos you immediately think of biblical theology, and rightly so since his Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments has been monumental in the push to see the covenantal unity of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. However, what many don’t know is that the father of Reformed biblical theology also wrote systematic theology! His Gereformeerde Dogmatiek  were written between 1888-1893 when Vos taught systematic theology or dogmatics at the Theological School of the Christian Reformed Church (what would later be named Calvin Theologstatic1.squarespace.comical Seminary). This was right before Vos would take up the newly created chair of biblical theology at Princeton Seminary in the fall of 1893. Unfortunately, his Reformed Dogmatics, originally published in Dutch, never made it into English …until now. Lexham Press is publishing all five volumes. You can purchase all five through Logos Bible software, and the first two volumes are in print as well. Translated and edited by Richard B. Gaffin, Jr., these volumes will now allow historians and theologians alike to see how this biblical theologian put the doctrines of the faith together. It will also provide the opportunity to see how Vos viewed the relationship between biblical theology and systematic theology.

Right now Westminster Bookstore is having a big sale on these volumes (the first three are available in print…with the last two volumes to come). Here is the breakdown:

Buy the hardback’s individually at a 26% discount:

Reformed Dogmatics. Volume 1: Theology Proper

Reformed Dogmatics. Volume 2: Anthropology

Reformed Dogmatics. Volume 3: Christology

Or buy the set of three volumes at a 33% discount:

Reformed Dogmatics. Three Volumes

_MG_3290-Edit

Here is the publisher’s description:

Geerhardus Vos’ Reformed Dogmatics (5 vols.) represents the early theological thought of one of the premier Reformed thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Originally self-published in five volumes in 1896, under the title Gereformeerde Dogmatiek, this important piece of Reformed theology has never before been available to an English audience.

Throughout his life, Vos was connected with a number of important Reformed institutions. He was the first alumnus of Calvin Seminary (then Theological School) to earn a doctoral degree and also the first Calvin Seminary faculty member to have an advanced degree. Before his appointment at Calvin, Vos was invited by Abraham Kuyper to take the chair of Old Testament Theology at the newly formed Free University (Vrije Universiteit) in Amsterdam.

After teaching at Calvin, Vos accepted a position at Princeton during the days of the Old Princeton Theologians. He held the chair of Biblical Theology there from 1892 until 1932. Vos is perhaps best known to English speakers for his books Pauline Eschatology, published in 1930, and Biblical Theology: Old and New Testament, published in 1948. Vos’ strong grounding in biblical scholarship and biblical theology makes his Reformed Dogmatics unique, bringing a fresh biblical perspective. Though these five volumes are systematic in nature, Geerhardus Vos brings the skills and acumen of a biblical theologian to the task.

And here are several endorsements:

“Like books, people can become ‘classics.’ Great in their day, but richer and more fulfilling with time. Not yet a classic, Vos’s never-before-published Reformed Dogmatics is more like a lost Shakespeare play recently discovered. There seems to have been a flurry in recent years of systematic theologians writing with an eye for biblical theology. With this series we now have a biblical theologian writing a systematic theology. Thanks to Lexham Press for giving us such a long-awaited but impressive access to this much-discussed gem.”
Michael Horton, Prof. of Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California

“The state of access to deep, historic, orthodox Reformed theology has progressed exponentially in the last decade or so. Resources previously inaccessible to many have now become available to a vastly wider audience. In my view, the capstone of this accessibility is in this masterful work of Geerhardus Vos. Vos has the singularly unique accumen and ability to summarize and state concisely some of the deepest truths of Reformed theology. These volumes will now be my first recommendation to anyone who wants to understand the riches of the Bibles’ teaching in a compressed and clear way. Thanks to Richard B. Gaffin Jr., to the translators, and to Lexham Press for putting this work into our hands.”
K. Scott Oliphint, Prof. of Apologetics and Systematic Theology, Westminster Seminary California

“This translation of Vos’ Dogmatiek is the last link in access to his magnificent oeuvre. English readers will now be able to match the Princetonian’s commitment to historic Reformed doctrinal orthodoxy with his pioneering work in redemptive-historical biblical theology. The interaction is refreshing as well as pace-setting. Kudos to publisher and translator alike for undertaking this project.”
James T. Dennison, Jr., Academic Dean and Prof. of Church History and Biblical Theology, Northwest Theological Seminary

And don’t miss this video either:
 

Matthew Barrett (PhD, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Christian Studies at California Baptist University, as well as the founder and executive editor of Credo Magazine. Barrett is also Senior Pastor of Fellowship Baptist Church. He is the author and editor of several books, including Salvation by Grace: The Case for Effectual Calling and Regeneration. Two forthcoming books include, Owen on the Christian Life and God’s Word Alone: The Authority of Scripture. You can read about Barrett’s other publications at matthewmbarrett.com.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

The Wrath of God and the Gospel (Fred G. Zaspel)

Posted by on May 13, 2015 in Magazine-The Forgotton God | One Comment
The Wrath of God and the Gospel  (Fred G. Zaspel)

In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “The Forgotten God – Divine Attributes We Are Ashamed Of and Why We Shouldn’t Be,” Fred G. Zaspel has contributed an article called, “The Wrath of God and the Gospel.”  Fred Zaspel (Ph.D., Free University of Amsterdam) is pastor at the Reformed Baptist Church of Franconia, PA. He is also Professor of Systematic Theology at Calvary Baptist Seminary in Lansdale, PA, and is the executive editor of Books At a Glance. He is the author of The Theology of B.B. Warfield: A Systematic Summary  and Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel.

Here is the start of Zaspel’s article:

Preachers today often complain that the concept of sin is so foreign to today’s postmodern mind that it seems nearly impossible to get across. Indeed. But if this is so (perhaps we should say, because this is so), the concept of divine wrath is still more difficult. How could God be angry – much less very angry – with us?

But of course the notions of sin and wrath are inseparably linked, and Scripture never loses sight of them as such. The biblical writers do not present divine wrath as a necessary attribute of God as he is in himself but as the necessary outworking of God’s holiness in reference to sin. Wrath is the inevitable response of God to all that is contrary to him and therefore in rebellion against him.

The Nature of Divine Wrath

The righteousness that God requires of us is not abstract or theoretical. What he requires is that we, creatures made in his image, reflect him faithfully – that we display (“image”) in our own persons and behavior the moral and ethical uprightness that is characteristic of him. Because (1) we are God’s image-bearers, and because 2) his law is reflective and expressive of him, he cannot but require that we conform. It is one function of his righteousness that he require the same righteousness of us.

It is because of this connection that God has a deep interest in our ethical and moral conduct. For example, measuring scales and all devices for determining honest dealings with others are said, ultimately, to have been issued by God. “Honest scales and balances belong to the LORD; all the weights in the bag are of his making” (Prov. 16:11). Whether we speak in terms of inches, centimeters, pounds, grams, bushels, or ounces, all such “truth” scales are reflective of God’s justice and the justice he requires of us. They all are “from him” in that sense. Accordingly, a just weight delights him, reflecting as it does his own justice. And by the same token, a false balance is repugnant and abhorrent to him as a personal affront and violation of his justice.

All of this figures into the biblical presentation of God’s wrath. Sin is a treacherous refusal of his righteous reign, and given this, God is not indifferent to it. It angers him. In every sin, every transgression of his law, the sinner sets himself in opposition against the lawgiver and thus, inevitably, becomes the object of his holy wrath. . . .

Read the rest of this article today!


To view the magazine as a PDF click hereCredo April 2015 Cover

Looking back on the first half of the twentieth century, H. Richard Niebuhr famously described liberal Christianity’s understanding of the gospel like this: “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a Kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a Cross.” Such a mentality has had its influence and still does today. There are certain Bible stories that you just don’t talk about, not even in church. For many people today, Bible stories having to do with divine wrath, anger, or jealousy are embarrassing. And yet, no matter how uncomfortable they make you feel, it is nearly impossible to get through a book (sometimes a chapter!) of the Bible without coming face to face with these forgotten attributes of God. In a culture that capitalizes on tolerance and love, a focus on divine judgment is considered harsh, even primitive. Gordon Rupp’s words still speak today when he said, “What it means to feel oneself under the Wrath of God is something that modern man can hardly understand.”

Though unpopular to do so, this issue of Credo Magazine aims to make you, the modern reader, feel the weight of these biblical attributes of God. They are forgotten attributes of God, no doubt about it. But our desire is that by the end of this issue you will see just how important these attributes are to the story of redemption and for knowing God in a saving way. As has often been said, it is impossible to relish the grace of God in the cross of Christ unless you first understand the condemnation you sit under as a rebel.

Contributors include Bruce Ware, David Murray, Erik Thoennes, Matthew Barrett, Fred Zaspel, Daniel Hyde, Cornelius Tolsma, Jessalyn Hutto, Michael A.G. Haykin, and many others.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

A Remarkable Demonstration of the Unity of the Bible (Timothy Raymond)

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Timothy Raymond | 5 Comments
A Remarkable Demonstration of the Unity of the Bible (Timothy Raymond)

A few weeks ago I purchased Walter Kaiser’s Recovering the Unity of the Bible: One Continuous Story, Plan, and Purpose.  While I love Kaiser, the real reason I bought the book was because it was 50% off and I’m something of a cheapskate.  The book considers the Bible’s internal coherence from a variety of perspectives (e.g., the Bible’s unified picture of God, its unified plan, its unified ethic, etc.) and is, in the end, a powerful apologetic for the supernatural inspiration of Scripture.  On the whole, the book is really outstanding and definitely worth reading.

For me, the most valuable chapter by far has been chapter 4, “The Unity of the Hebrew Bible.”  The chapter makes the remarkable claim that the entire Old Testament history is organized and arranged around Israel’s breaking of all ten of the Ten Commandments.  This is something I’ve never heard before or seen anywhere else.  What follows is my attempt at summarizing Kaiser’s chapter for you to consider and to explore further on your own.

400px-Old_TestamentBuilding on the work of David Noel Freedman, Kaiser’s argument begins by organizing the Old Testament canon, not according to our modern Protestant organization, but according to the traditional Jewish organization of Torah, Prophets, and the Writings.  This is almost certainly the way in which the Bible was organized in Jesus’ day (Luke 24:44).  Then those books which make up the “Primary History” of the Hebrew people are isolated (p. 48-50).  This Primary History would be composed of nine books, namely the five books of the Torah (i.e., Pentateuch) and the four Former Prophets (i.e., Joshua through 2 Kings), which combined tell the story of Israel’s rise and fall.  (In case you’re wondering how the Torah plus the Former Prophets are “nine” books, in the Hebrew canon 1 and 2 Samuel are a single book as are 1 and 2 Kings.)  Astonishingly, when these nine books are considered as a collective whole, rather conspicuous episodes of breaking each of the Ten Commandments are recorded in order, basically one per book.  Kaiser writes:

“The organization of the nine books revolves around Israel’s violation of…the Ten Commandments before the Babylonian exile ensued.  One commandment and one violation appear in each book” (p. 51).

If this organization is actually present in the Hebrew Bible, this is really fascinating and is, in my opinion, a strong evidence of a Greater Hand at work in the formation of the canon.  Freedman asks:

“What are the chances that such a pattern and sequence actually occur in the Primary History?  And if they do occur, or any portion of them [falls into place], is that evidence of a guiding editorial hand?” (Kaiser, p. 51, quoting Freedman)

Now admittedly there are a couple important concessions which must be made for this organization to work.  First, the ordering of the Decalogue must be taken not from Exodus 20 or Deuteronomy 5 but from Jeremiah 7:8-11, which modifies the traditional ordering of the Ten Commandments on commandments 6-8 (p. 51, 54).  There are actually compelling reasons for this, but for the sake of brevity, I won’t summarize them here.  Second, violations of the first two commandments and the final two commandments are found in the same accounts, thus forming interesting bookends.  Kaiser writes:

“The first violation happened when Moses was absent from the Israelite camp while he was up on Mount Sinai [i.e., the golden calf incident]…Thus, in one single event, we have a double violation of the first two commandments…The final event in 1 Kings 21 likewise had a double violation, wherein both Queen Jezebel and King Ahab violated not just the ninth commandment against false witnesses by lying about a crime that Naboth did not commit, but King Ahab also violated the tenth commandment when he coveted Naboth’s vineyard…Thus 1 Kings 21 forms an inclusion by ending the ninth book with a double violation, just as Israel began this series of ten violations of the Decalogue with a double offense” (p. 52-53).

If you’re able to tolerate those two concessions, the final outcome is rather powerful.

How might this be illustrated?  Here my imperfect attempt at reduplicating Kaiser’s chart (p. 52):

Commandment

Violation

1 – “No other gods”

Exodus 32 – Golden calf incident

2 – “No graven images”

Exodus 32 – Golden calf incident

3 – “Don’t use Lord’s name in vain”

Leviticus 24:10-16 – The half Israelite/half Egyptian who blasphemed

4 – “Remember the Sabbath”

Numbers 15:32-36 – Man gathering sticks on the Sabbath

5 – “Honor parents”

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 – The wayward, defiant son who is stoned

8 – “No stealing”

Joshua 7 – Achan’s sin at Ai

6 – “No murder”

Judge 19-21 – The Levite’s concubine raped to death

7 – “No adultery”

2 Samuel 11-12 – David’s adultery with Bathsheba

9 – “No false witness”

1 Kings 21 – King Ahab taking Naboth’s vineyard

10 – “No covering”

1 Kings 21 – King Ahab taking Naboth’s vineyard

Why might such an organization be evident in the Old Testament?  Two main reasons.  First, to show how thoroughly Israel apostatized from the Mosaic Covenant and that they were fully deserving of the Exile.  But second, to give us a clear but subtle proof that the Old Testament canon (and more than that, the history of the Hebrew people) was under the control of our sovereign God.

Now again, I share this with you mostly to perk your interests and to encourage you to do more research on your own.  But for now, I’m curious to get your feedback on this.  Do you find it fascinating and persuasive or just an interesting coincidence?  Do you notice major holes in the idea?  Leave your comments below and we’ll have a conversation.

Timothy Raymond is an editor for Credo Magazine and has been the pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Muncie, Indiana since April 2006. He received his MDiv from the Baptist Bible Seminary of Pennsylvania in 2004 and has pursued further education through the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation.

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail