20 August, 2009

Want To Go To Seminary?

Below is a recommended reading list from Westminster Seminary California for students who are considering entering seminary. I would concur that it is important for a pre-seminarian to read a number of these books so that the discussions in seminary may be more fruitful.

I also believe that this list is useful for any Christian who is wanting to learn more about God, Christ, the Bible, or any of the topics listed below. So 'pick up and read' as the singing children told Augustine to do long ago!

  • Reformation Study Bible (Ligonier)
  • Edmund Clowney, The Unfolding Mystery (P&R)
  • Dan McCartney and Charles Clayton, Let the Reader Understand (Bridge Point)
  • Michael Horton, God of Promise: Introducing Covenant Theology (Baker)
  • Gerhardus Vos, Biblical Theology (Banner of Truth)
  • Dennis Johnson, Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation (P&R)
  • Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms; Heidelberg Catechism, Belgic Confession, Canons of Dort
  • A. A. Hodge, The Confession of Faith (Banner of Truth)
  • Zacharius Ursinus, Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (P&R)
  • Diogenes Allen, Philosophy for Understanding Theology (Westminster John Knox)
  • Cornelius Van Til, Defense of the Faith (P&R)
  • Louis Berkhof, Introduction to Theology (Eerdmans)
  • Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics: Prolegomena (Baker)
  • Michael Horton, Covenant and Eschatology (Westminster John Knox)
  • B. B. Warfield, The Plan of Salvation (Wipf and Stock)
  • John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied (Eerdmans)
  • Michael Horton, Putting Amazing Back Into Grace (Baker)
  • Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Eerdmans)
  • Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Baker)
  • John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols. (Westminster John Knox)
  • W. Robert Godfrey, Reformation Sketches (P&R)
  • Paul Johnson, A History of Christianity (Scribner Book Co.)
  • D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (P&R)
  • Bengt Hagglund, History of Theology (Concordia)
  • Philip Benedict, Christ's Church Purely Reformed: A Social History of Calvinism (Yale University Press)
  • W. Robert Godfrey, Unexpected Journey (P&R)
  • J.I. Packer, Knowing God (IVP)
  • Edmund Clowney, Called to the Ministry (P&R)
  • Charles Bridges, Christian Ministry (Banner of Truth)
  • Charles Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Christian Heritage)
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers (Zondervan)
  • Michael Horton, A Better Way (Baker)
  • D.G. Hart and John Muether, With Reverence and Awe (P&R)
  • Edmund Clowney, The Church (IVP)
  • Samuel Logan, ed., The Preacher and Preaching (P&R)
  • Ernest Reisinger, Today's Evangelism: Its Message and Methods (P&R)
  • J. I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (IVP)
  • R.B. Kuyper, God-Centered Evangelism (Banner of Truth)
  • John Piper, Let the Nations be Glad (Baker)
  • David Powlison, Seeing With New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture (P&R)
  • John MacArthur and Wayne Mack, Introduction to Biblical Counseling (W Publishing Group)
  • Paul Vitz, Psychology as Religion (Eerdmans)
  • Alfred Poirier, The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict (Baker)
  • J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Eerdmans)
  • Michael Horton, Where in the World is the Church?
  • D. G. Hart, The Lost Soul of American Protestantism
  • David Wells, God in the Wasteland (Eerdmans)
  • John Piper and Wayne Grudem, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (Crossway)
  • William Strunk and E. B. White, The Elements of Style (Allyn and Bacon); Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, How to Read a Book (Simon and Schuster);
  • William Zinsser, On Writing Well (Quill Press) Joseph Williams, Style: Toward Clarity and Grace (University of Chicago)
  • Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Gotham)
  • Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (University of Chicago)

08 August, 2009

Intimacy With God Following the Sacrament

Reflection consists in a continual looking unto and having fellowship with the Lord. "Walk before me and be perfect (Gen. 17.1)" "And Enoch walked with God (Gen. 5.24)". To that end it is necessary that one views God in Christ as a reconciled Father. Even when spiritual light dissipates, if one falls into sin and strife comes, he must nevertheless hold fast to the immovable-ness of the covenant. It is neither your feeling nor your standing or falling which determines the steadfastness or stability of the covenant; rather it is based on the immutability of God. "For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, says the Lord that has mercy on you, (Is. 54.10). "For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore you sons of Jacob are not consumed (Mal 3.6)" Therefore do not succumb so readily, hold fast to what you have, be steadfast in faith, and conduct yourself manfully. If according to your feeling, you cannot conculde to the certainty of your state, then make the conclusion judgementally. Observe this in the following passage: "Likewise reckon also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Christ our Lord (Rom 6.1); because we thus judge that if one died for all, then we are all dead (2Cor 5.14)." Therefore setthe Lord continually before you and live in a continual dialogue with him- at one time pray, then ask for counsel, then express your dependance upon him, then wait upon Him, then reverently worship Him, and rest in Him, then thank Him, and again, offer yourself to His service. Aquaint yourself with Him.

All salvation, comfort, delight, holiness, and felicity for the soul is to be found in having fellowship with God. Such a soul perceives the righteousness of God as being only light, glorious, and pure- she loves it and rejoices herself in it, doing so all the more, since this righteousness is not against her unto condemnation, but the surety having merited this, it is to her advantage. The soul also perceives the goodness and all sufficiency of of God, and in enjoying their efficacy, she not only is unable to find any desirability in creatures apart from God, but apart from God there is nothing which she desires, since the soul finds everything from God. The soul also perceives the holiness of God. Since she is unable to endure its luster, she covers her countanance and perceives in this luster her own sinfulness; and for shame, she shrivels away, so to speak and becomes nothing. The soul also perceives the love of God and being irridated by this love, she delights herself in a most wonderous way, reciprocal love being ignited with her. She perceives the will of Godas being uppermost and sovereign over all things. Thus she loses her own will in whatever suffering comes her way and in whatever duties are before her. She wishes it to be thus becaue it is the Lord's will. The soul perceives the majesty and glory of God, in comparison with herself deeply before the majesty of God, worships him with deep reverence and gives glory to him. She perceives the omnipotence of God, both within Himself and as its opperatives toward his creatures. Then the power of the creature, which manifests itself either for or against her will, disappears. She sees the wisdom of God as revealing itself in all His works- both in nature as well as in grace. Thus the wisdom of all creatures melts away and she is quieted and well-satisfied with the only wise government of God. The soul also perceives the veracity and faithfulness of God. She is aqauainted with the promises, believes them, and is so confident as far as the certainty of these promises is concerned that it is as if they were already fulfilled.

All this engenders a thoughtful and steadfast spiritual frame, quiet submission in whatever circumstances the soul encounters, a fearless courage in the performance of her duty, and a delighting herself in the task she has for the Lord, leaving the outcome with resignation to the Lord's direction. Such a life is truly a joyful life, and pure holiness issues forth from this. She acknowledges any virtue which is not practiced by having God in Christ in view, as a vice. Such fellowship with God is heaven itself: I Thes. 4.17-18; Ps. 16.11; Ps. 17.15; Jer 33.3.

Behold such is the eminent felicity of fellowhip iwth God. Since you have entered into covenant with God, however, and this covenant has been sealed to you, you thus have the privledge to walk humbly with your God- thus also being your duty. Therefore, aquaint yourself with the Lord, have peace, and let your holiness shine forth. (Christian's Reasonable Service, vol. 2; pp.596-8)

03 August, 2009

A New-Old Psalter Conversation

De Regno Christi is having a discussion on the RPCNA's new Psalter. You are free to join in the conversation here. As with anything that is new, there will be those in favor and those who like the old ways better.

This is not how De Regno Christi is dealing with the matter though. They are discussing principles instead of preferences. Join in the conversation.


01 August, 2009

May We Pray to 'The Father' Only? Or Can We Pray to Christ and the Spirit?

A number of years ago I was talking with a saint who was well into his 80s. He was Netherlands Reformed by birth, but had wandered into the Presbyterian camp in his later years. During a conversation on prayer, I remember him saying that he has never prayed to Christ or to the Holy Spirit because the the model of our prayers (the Lord's Prayer) does not allow it.

Thomas Watson answered this pious objection, 308 years before this conversation took place between Mr. W and myself. Watson says,

Though the Father be named in the Lord's Prayer, yet the other two Persons are not excluded. The Father is mentioned because he is the first in order; but the Son and the Holy Ghost are included because they are the same in essence. As all three Persons subsist in one Godhead, so, in our prayers, though we name but one person, we must pray to all. To come more closely to the first words of the preface, 'Our Father.' Princes on earth give themselves titles expressing their greatness, and 'High and Mighty'. God might have done so, and expressed himself as thus, 'Our King of Glory, our Judge'. But he gives us another title, 'Our Father', an expression of love and condescension. That he might encourage us to pray to Him, he represents himself under the sweet notion of a Father. Sweet is the name of the Father. The name Jehovah carries majesty in it: the name of the Father carries mercy. (Lord's Prayer, 3)

So, we see, that we can pray to the Father, the Son, or the Spirit, and when we do so, we are praying to each because they share the same essence. The name 'Father' was not given to exclude prayer to the Son or the Spirit- but instead, was given as an encouragement that we can approach God, through Christ, as a Father, and not merely as a judge.