SALE: Carson/Gaffin/Piper

There is a great deal going on now at Westminster Bookstore… three books for $20! Get D.A. Carson’s “Collected Writings on Scripture,” and the respective festschrifts of Richard Gaffin and John Piper, “Resurrection and Eschatology” and “For the Fame of God’s Name”—all for just $20! Click the links above or image below for more info.

Of course, you could buy them individually for up to 72% off, but why not save around 80% by buying all three?

Review: China’s Reforming Chuches

120Baugus, Bruce P. “China’s Reforming Churches: Mission, Polity, and Ministry in the Next Christendom,” Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids, MI: 2014. 320 pp. $20.00

As a relatively sheltered westerner with no missionary experience, I can safely say that my knowledge of Christianity in foreign contexts is extremely limited. Although I have read books and watched DVD’s on missions that have improved my understanding of global Christianity, there are still historical-cultural realities that are beyond my grasp. My perspective on Chinese Christianity, as this book informed me, has been quite skewed and I’ve been guilty of constructing  a naive caricature of the Church in China.

I am very grateful to Cross Focused Reviews for opportunity to review this book—it is an encouraging, and eye-opening read that has helped me to better understand and appreciate global Christianity. What this book offers is an orientation to the history of Christianity in the south Pacific, the presence of Presbyterian and Reformed churches in China today, and the shape of things to come with regard to Reformed/Presbyterianism in the far east.

In this book, you’ll find fascinating stories of missionary bravery as well as major mistakes that have occurred in the history of missions in China. You’ll learn about the sociopolitical issues throughout China’s history and how the gospel mission has been advanced and hindered. You’ll read of the great similarities between the Church in the west and east—the rise of postmodernism and the challenges of materialism in a post-industrial world.

Perhaps the most compelling section of the book is Part 3, in which the authors take a look at the challenges and opportunities for Presbyterianism in China. Here, readers will read of the multitude of social issues that pose difficulties for gospel ministry and the dichotomous relationship between the state-registered TSPM (Three-Self Patriotic Movement) churches and unregistered house churches. The section closes with an essay in which David VanDrunen offers a two-kingdoms approach to ministry in China (which is sure to cause a bit of a stir), and Guy Prentiss Waters offers an argument for global Presbyterian polity from Acts 15.

The book concludes by looking at the opportunity for Christian publishing in China, a report on Chinese theological education, and the indigenization (the use of Chinese language) and contextualization of the Reformed faith in the Chinese culture. The appendix includes Robert Morrison’s (the first Protestant missionary to arrive on Chinese soil) 19th century catechism that is based upon the Westminster Shorter Catechism of 1647.

Regardless of one’s views of soteriology or ecclesiology, this book should prove to be an encouragement for those interested in the gospel mission in China—which should be all who name Christ as their Savior. Baugus’ “China’s Reforming Churches” provides a captivating look into the past, present, and future of the gospel mission in China, which helps Christians understand the global impact of the gospel so they can minister effectively to those they come into contact with.

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

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Get Hunter Baker’s “Political Thought: A Student’s Guide” for only 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

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Get Walter Brueggemann’s “Spirituality of the Psalms” for FREE for Logos Bible Software and enter to win the 24-volume collection

Enter to win a subscription to Leadership Journal from The Brave Reviews

Tom Ascol’s reflections on the 2014 Southern Baptist Convention

Practical advice for raising daughters to the glory of God

“Our prayers are an extract and copy of the work of the Holy Spirit in us, given us by Himself.” (John Owen)

“A knowledge of our misery is necessary for our comfort.” (Zacharias Ursinus)

Thank you for visiting ACTIVE/didactic. Please take some time to browse the rest of the site (pages are located in the tabs above). Start with the Pastoral Theology page or Systematic Theology page first. Soli Deo Gloria!

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Ed Stetzer with 3 ways to avoid feeling attacked by criticism

J.V. Fesko with a biblical and historical answer to the question, “Is the Pope the Antichrist?”

“Through our wretched apostasy from God, our mind is become the seat and habitation of all vanity, disorder and confusion.” (John Owen)

“If faith wavers, charity itself languishes. And if someone should fall from faith, it follows that he falls also from charity, for a man cannot love that which he does not believe to exist.” (Augustine)

Please visit the other pages on this site (listed above in the tabs) for more information. There are book recommendations and articles on a wide variety of topics across the various disciplines (Exegetical Theology, Pastoral Theology, etc.)—enjoy!

Review: Worshipping with Calvin

Johnson, Terry L. “Worshipping with Calvin: Recovering the Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism,” Darlington, England: 2014. 460 pp. $23.99

The recent resurgence of Calvinistic soteriology and Reformation theology has sparked many a conversation and produced quite a few popular-level books by the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” crowd. Although we’ve seen many responses to these works, typically addressing the theology and general ideology of the New Calvinism movement, Terry Johnson sets out to provide a scholarly work that focuses on the elements of Reformed worship.

In “Worshipping with Calvin,” Johnson presents extensive biblical and historical arguments for how a local church should conduct its worship services. He begins by looking at the contemporary evangelical landscape and the unfortunate historical and theological anemia that plagues it. After offering a comparison between the early Church and the current state of the western Church, and giving a brief historical survey of the 20th century “worship wars,” he provides strong exegetical, historical, and theological arguments in favor of a decidedly Reformed approach to worship and ministry.

Next, the author emphasizes the strengths of Reformed worship and ministry. He contends that this particular approach to liturgy is God-centered, Bible-filled, Gospel-structured, Church-aware, and Spirit-dependent.

This book was a great encouragement to me. I am in agreement with much of what is said within, but there are several arguments that the author gives that either changed my mind or solidified an existing position. For instance, Johnson has convinced me of the use of lectio continua (consecutive reading) Bible readings and singing Psalms in corporate worship. While previously, I have utilized lectio selecta (selective reading) Scripture readings to “reinforce” the passage preached, the author has convinced me of the wisdom in implementing a continuous reading of both the Old and New Testaments. Furthermore, while I have understood the importance of the Psalms for corporate worship, this book has convinced me of their necessity. Without dogmatically promoting a strict Psalms-only liturgical model, the author insists the inclusion of the Psalter and has convinced me that it is necessary to regularly and consistently involve Psalms in a worship service.

As a Reformed Baptist, I am in disagreement with the author’s views with regard to Covenant Theology and the sacrament of baptism (it is unfortunate that his treatment of credobaptism in chapter 6 only addresses the 16th century Anabaptists and not the 17th century Particular Baptists—though I acknowledge the book’s emphasis on John Calvin and the potential for anachronism), and while I have reservations with Johnson’s observations about ethnicity, his research is top-notch. Regardless of any covenantal differences I may have with Johnson, I strongly agree with the over-arching theme of this book—that our worship should be prescribed by Scripture and rooted in the historicity of the Church (and particularly that of the Reformation period). The cultural trends and encroachment of worldliness in contemporary American Christianity have spurned a new downgrade in the liturgical life of the Church, and my hope is that books like this will precipitate a doxological reformation in local evangelical churches.

Although this is a book primarily aimed at Presbyterians, I would recommend this book to any one who claims to be a Protestant Christian—particularly Pastors and Elders. Johnson offers a cogent exhortation for modern Christians to compare their liturgy with Scripture and Church history. He provides an abundance of Scriptural references, and quotes a multitude of well-known Pastors, theologians, and church historians (around 37% of the book is comprised of a bibliography and notes) to support his position. Terry Johnson’s “Worshipping with Calvin” is a helpful resource for Christians who want to glorify God in worship according to His Word.

For more on this subject, please visit the Historical Theology page.

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

Review: Active Spirituality

There has been a lot of talk over the past several months about the role of works within the context of the gospel. Much confusion has come about by those who promote antinomianism (licentious inactivity disguised as “grace” that is accompanied by a blatant disregard for the Law) as well as legalism (salvation is not by grace alone, but justification is attained by effort). “Active Spirituality: Grace and Effort in the Christian Life” by Brian Hedges is a timely book that seeks to provide a biblical framework for Christians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). I’m thankful for my friends at Cross Focused Reviews for giving me the opportunity to review this book from Shepherd Press.

This is the first book by Hedges that I have read, though “Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change” and “Licensed to Kill: A Field Manual for Mortifying Sin” are on my ever-increasing “to-read” list (I have the Kindle version of the former). I am grateful for brother Hedges’ labors for the gospel and the practical resources he has provided for the Church.

“Active Spirituality” is not written as a basic theology book, but as a series of letters to a young Christian. It was refreshing to see this format in a book that deals with a few challenging topics. As someone who spends much of his time reading systematic theology or biblical theology, it was nice to see a different approach to theology by utilizing this genre. In my opinion, the use of fictional correspondence helps capture the pastoral heart of the author and helps to emphasize the overall message of the book.

In these letters, Hedges interacts with a new convert who is pondering the Christian life. He covers topics like assurance of salvation, the necessity of the local church, the perseverance of the saints, repentance, self-examination, and spiritual weariness (amongst others). While offering pastoral insight into texts such as Philippians 2, Romans 7, and the warnings in the book of Hebrews, he pulls from a wide variety of sources like Augustine, Bunyan, Owen, Ryle, Edwards, and Lewis to assist him in shepherding this young Christian who is seeking to live for God’s glory.

Overall, any disagreements I have with the book are hair-splitting objections to how something was worded, or knee-jerk reactions to his interpretation of a passage (that he has undoubtedly spent more time studying). While I am not particularly fond of some of the sources he cited, he refers to Bunyan and Owen quite frequently (which I applaud), and does an excellent job synthesizing references. Hedges is also great at creating illustrations from a number of different stories and genres. Unfortunately, this book has no footnotes or Scripture index, but there is a helpful “Notes on Sources” appendix as well as a bibliography.

“Active Spirituality” is a useful little book for people who have recently embraced Christ as their Savior and King. Helping to navigate through the various challenges that await Christians in this life, the author provides pastoral care and concern throughout and offers wise biblical counsel to someone that needs guidance in their sojourn to the celestial city. This is a title that I would use in discipling new believers, and I’ll continue to dip into for it’s practicality and vast bibliography. Hedges has done the Church a service by giving us an easy-to-read and immensely practical book about the balance between grace and effort.

For more on this subject, please visit the Pastoral Theology page.

Recommended reading:

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.

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Get Wayne Grudem’s “Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth: An Analysis of Over 100 Disputed Questions” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

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Get Kevin DeYoung’s “The Hole in Our Holiness: Filling the Gap Between Gospel Passion and the Pursuit of Godliness” for just 99¢ for Amazon Kindle

Check out Ligonier Ministries’ $5 Friday deals featuring Stephen Nichols’ “Reformation Profiles” teaching series (DVD)

Enter to win 11 Reformation Heritage books from Tim Challies’ Free Stuff Friday

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Download a FREE copy of Iain Duguid’s “Is Jesus in the Old Testament?” from Westminster Bookstore

Enter to win Thom Rainer’s “Autopsy of a Deceased Church” and a black genuine leather HCSB study Bible

Enter to win a subscription to Leadership Journal from The Brave Reviews

Three contextual keys to studying the Bible

A short biography of John Bunyan by Geoff Thomas

How Pastors accidentally ruin their church

“Christians are in themselves no wiser than are other men. What they have, they have by grace.” (Cornelius Van Til)

“A fearer of God steers the rudder of his life according to the compass of the Word.” (Thomas Watson)

Please take some time to check out the other pages on this site. You’ll find several articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations for your encouragement. Visit the Systematic Theology page or Historical Theology page first. Thanks!

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Get Steven Lawson’s “The Heroic Boldness of Martin Luther” for 50% OFF from Westminster Bookstore

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Mars Hill Pastor forced to resign after refusing to sign “non-compete clause”

David Mathis shares 5 benefits of corporate worship

John Wesley on becoming a better preacher through reading

David Murray shares his vision for Christian education

Females do not need feminine pronouns to know they’re made in God’s image

Mark Lamprecht on lawsuits and the Southern Baptist Convention

“We are never nearer Christ than when we find ourselves lost in a holy amazement at His unspeakable love.” (John Owen)

“Knowledge may make thee a scholar, but not a saint; orthodox, but not gracious.” (William Gurnall)

Please take some time to browse the other pages on this site (located above in the tabs). You will find many articles, FREE e-books, and book recommendations for your encouragement. Check out the Exegetical Theology page or Historical Theology page first. Thanks!

 

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Get Bobby Jamieson’s “Sound Doctrine: How a Church Grows in the Love and Holiness of God” for 50% OFF at Westminster Bookstore

Enter to win a stack of books by Russell Moore, Daniel Darling, Trillia Newbell, John Piper, and Mez McConnell from ERLC and 20 Schemes

Enter to win Michael Reeves’ “The Unquenchable Flame: Discovering the Heart of the Reformation” from B&H Academic

Get John Stott’s “The Message of 2 Timothy” for FREE for Amazon Kindle

Get D.A. Carson’s “Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians” for $2.51 on Amazon Kindle (sale ends 05/22)

Get Kevin DeYoung’s “Crazy Busy” for just $3.99 for Amazon Kindle (sale ends 05/31)

Get Timothy Paul Jones’ “Christian History Made Easy” for just $3.03 for Amazon Kindle

Albert Mohler on the call to ministry

Help Reformed Forum with their Christian education initiative

14 common logical fallacies that keep showing up in bad arguments

Developing a great relationship with your Senior Pastor

Joshua Harris of Covenant Life (Sovereign Grace Ministries) requests leave of absence following conviction of former staff member

The local church is the chosen and best method of evangelism

“Faith is the root. Assurance is the flower. You can never have the flower without the root; but you may have the root without the flower.” (J.C. Ryle)

“There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge; that is curiosity. There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others; that is vanity. There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve; that is love.” (Bernard of Clairvaux)

Please take some time to browse the other pages on this site. There are several articles, book recommendations, and FREE e-books for your encouragement and edification. Check out the Historical Theology page or Biblical Theology page first… enjoy!

Review: John Knox

Simonetta Carr has done it again. “John Knox” is the seventh installment of her acclaimed “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series (published by Reformation Heritage). Here she sets out to tell the story of John Knox, the great Reformer of Scotland. If you would like to know more about this great series, please check out the Christian Biographies for Young Readers website.

I am always looking forward to new volumes for this series as I am a student of Historical Theology and plan on raising my children with great respect for the Christian heritage and reverence for Church history. I have read Carr’s volume on Anselm of Canterbury (you can read my review HERE), and plan on purchasing the other volumes in the future. The literary content and artwork (by Matt Abraxas) in these books is wonderful, but what is also impressive is the quality of materials used produce them.

Carr begins the book with an introduction that informs the reader of the sociopolitical context in which Knox lived (pp. 5–6). The Protestant Reformation had moved from continental Europe to England and Scotland by way of travelers. The author makes note of one such pilgrim, Patrick Hamilton, who brought the biblical gospel back to his home country of Scotland only to be killed by Roman Catholic authorities. After a few changes in the political landscape, commoners were given access to the Bible and Knox was converted by the preaching of the gospel of salvation through faith alone. (p. 8) Shortly thereafter, the freedoms which the Protestants enjoyed were rescinded (p. 10) and so Knox went to work as a bodyguard for George Wishart, who was a gospel preacher on the run from Roman Catholic authorities. (pp. 11–12)

Wishart was killed, and Knox went to live at St. Andrews Castle (pp. 14–15), where he began his pulpit ministry. The author points out that both Protestants and Roman Catholics shared preaching responsibilities, which I thought was very interesting. According to the author, Knox rebuked a Catholic priest who claimed that Rome was the “true bride of Christ” and preached his first sermon as a response to the claim. “In his sermon,” writes Carr, “Knox explained that Christ is the only Head of the church, and only the Bible has the final say. He also showed how many of the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church had been invented by men.” (p. 18)

In 1547, the Scottish government overthrew St. Andrews with the help of France and the Protestants were arrested. John Knox was sentenced to row in the galleys of a ship, and endured severe persecution from his Roman Catholic captors along with the miserable living conditions and grueling slave labor. (pp. 19–24). Two years later, he was released and sent to Berwick, England where he was free to preach under the rule of King Edward VI, a Protestant. Unfortunately, his stay in England was cut short when King Edward died suddenly, leaving his Roman Catholic half-sister Mary Tudor (commonly referred to as “Bloody Mary” for her vicious reputation) to rule the throne. Knox fled to France, and later moved to Switzerland to learn from John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger. (pp. 25–30)

Knox married Marjory Bowes in Scotland in 1555 before returning to Geneva to pastor a church of English refugees who fled Mary Tudor’s persecution. (p. 31–32) John returned to Scotland at the dawn of the Scottish Revolution to pastor St. Andrews Church, and also served as an army chaplain. When the war was over, Scotland formed a parliament which established the country as a Protestant nation and Knox was one of the men who drafted the Scots Confession of Faith. (pp. 31–42)

Shortly after the death of Marjory, the Roman Catholic Queen Mary Stuart returned to a very Protestant Scotland. Knox was quite vocal about her participation in the mass and they spoke their concerns to each other on a number of occasions. According to Carr, Knox even spoke out about the Queen’s desire to marry a Roman Catholic Prince! (pp. 44–48) This, of course, caused severe hostility between them and marked the decline of the Queen’s rule. When Scottish Nobles forced the Queen to resign the crown, her son James VI of Scotland became the King and Knox preached at his coronation. He continued to preach in his home country until his death in 1572. (pp. 50–54)

Simonetta Carr has written a wonderful little biography of John Knox. I’m a history nerd with a special appreciation for the Reformation, so I am rather biased in my opinion… but she puts a lot of time into researching her subject and likes to include interesting details and side stories, which makes the book an entertaining read for anyone. One example of such is the downward spiral of Queen Mary Stuart. Though it was a sad state of affairs, I was fascinated by the alleged conspiracy to murder her second husband, her imprisonment, and the plot to assassinate Queen Elizabeth that resulted in her execution. (pp. 49–50, 60) The author also includes a “Did You Know?” section with additional information relative to the story, as well as a portion of The Scots Confession of faith, which I thought was very helpful in rooting the reader in the historical reality of the book. I really enjoyed “John Knox” and look forward to the release of future volumes.

For more on this subject, please visit the Historical Theology page.

Recommended reading:

See also:
Review: “Anselm of Canterbury”
Carl Trueman and Todd Pruit interview Simonetta on Mortification of Spin

Effective December 1, 2009, Federal Trade Commission guidelines state that bloggers receiving any kind of compensation should disclose that information clearly on their blog when posting a review of the product… that being said: I RECEIVED A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK.