Posted tagged ‘Church History’

Our Story [Propaganda]

September 23, 2011

You may remember Propaganda when I first posted his mad poetry slam on the G.O.S.P.E.L. 
Now he’s chopping it up on church history. Check it.

John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology (Review)

July 10, 2009

Today, we celebrate the 500th anniversary of John Calvin’s birth–a man who towers over church history like few others.  Many of those I follow on Twitter are sharing their favorite quotes from Calvin’s writings, but as one rightly exhorted, get to know the man himself and not the caricature.  In the book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology you get just that–a great picture of Calvin as he was, not what some today are trying to make him out to be.

Below is a review for that book published in the Founders Journal.

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Parsons, Burk, ed. John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2008), 257pp. $19.00.

In the providence of God, we are living in a time where the resurgence of Calvinism is welcoming the 500th year of John Calvin’s birth.  Unlike generations past, Calvinism is cool, even to the point that The New York Times are writing reports on the leaders of this new generation of Calvinists.  Molly Worthen, author of the New York Times’ article, made a striking conclusion about the Calvinism of this generation:

“[The] New Calvinism underscores a curious fact: the doctrine of total human depravity has always had a funny way of emboldening, rather than humbling, its adherents.“[1]

Whether Worthen’s assessment is a misperception or not can be argued as a litmus test for Calvinism according to John Calvin, for Calvin knew nothing of this kind of doctrine that resulted in pride rather not humility.  The book, John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, & Doxology is intended to peel back the layers of modern-day half-truths and caricatures to show the true nature of the man and his message.  The editor, Burk Parsons, explains that “the purpose of this volume [is] that the people of God might more fully trust, invoke, praise, and love the Lord” (xix).

More than a focus on Calvin, this book, as Calvin would so desire, transcends to a deeper and truer knowledge of Calvin’s God.  If it is agreeable that “a true Calvinist is one who strives to think as Calvin thought and live as Calvin lived—insofar as Calvin thought and lived as our Lord Jesus Christ” (6), then it is incumbent upon all Calvinists, especially those brought up in this recent resurgence, to read this book.  Divided into two sections, the excellent list of contributors provides both breadth and depth into both Calvin’s life and thought in way that both the layman and scholar can richly benefit.  But more importantly, the tenor of the writings exhibit the humility of Calvin and cast his writings under the majesty of the God whose fear was always in his heart.

Calvin’s life-long prayer was, “I offer my heart to you, Lord, promptly and sincerely” (32), and what this book does is provide a panoramic picture—whether as disciple of Christ, churchman, preacher, Reformer, theologian, or statesman—of how that prayer produced a man who was “mastered by God” (7).

Of all the books that are available today in honor of Calvin, perhaps there is none other that can give you a glimpse into a man who gazed at God through the lens of His Word.  Given the popular misperception that Calvinists are not committed to evangelism, missions, or church planting, however, it would have been more fitting to highlight Calvin’s impact in turning Geneva as the greatest missionary sending city during the Reformation.

Should we glean from the teachings of Calvin, we would have as a tutor a man intimately acquainted with the greatest knowledge in the world—God Himself.

Should we follow the example of Calvin, we would have as a friend a man whose devotion was a touchstone of humility.  A closer look into the life of Calvin would garner a deeper love for God and His Word, which to no one’s surprise, reveals the enduring impact of the contribution he made, and continues to make, 500 years after his birth.

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[1] “What Would Jesus Smack Down?” by Molly Worthen The New York Times (January 6, 2009). Available online at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/magazine/11punk-t.html?_r=5&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=all (accessed January 23, 2009).

Driscoll and Haykin on Christian Biographies . . . and Puritan Profiles

December 27, 2007

In April of this year, Dr. Mohler wrote a nice piece on reading Christian biographies with ten excellent choices of his own. Last week, both Dr. Michael Haykin and Mark Driscoll chimed in with their favorite biographies as well. Here are the nine top biographies by Dr. Haykin:

1. Iain Murray, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (2 vols.)
2. Faith Cook, Grimshaw of Haworth
3. Courtney Anderson, To the Golden Shore (Adoniram Judson)
4. Timothy George, Faithful Witness (William Carey)
5. Andrew Fuller, Memoirs of Samuel Pearce
6. Arnold Dallimore, George Whitefield (2 vols.)
7. Peter Brown, Augustine of Hippo
8. George Marsden, Jonathan Edwards
9. Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards

Mark Driscoll shares his thoughts on reading Christian bio’s in reference to the upcoming Resurgence conference, Text and Context. Here is the video excerpt:

Driscoll names some great folks, including Lloyd-Jones, Whitefield, Edwards, Calvin, and Spurgeon. Speaking of Spurgeon, I finally picked up vol. 2 of his autobiography published by Banner of Truth. There are several bio’s on him out there, and I thought I’d provide you a list of some. Here’s some to check out:

C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years, Vol. 1
C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography: The Full Harvest, Vol. 2
The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray
Spurgeon: A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore
Letters of Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching by Iain Murray
Susannah Spurgeon: Free Grace and Dying Love
Spurgeon: Prince of Preachers by Lewis Drummond

Also, if you want to read rip-roaring Spurgeon, be sure to purchase his sermons from the New Park Street Pulpit which you can get for a great price–$34.99 at Monergism Books. These sermons from his early years in the pulpit and really encouraging to read. Oh, and here’s the Amazon link to Light and Heat: A Puritan View of Preaching by R. Bruce Bickel.

Lastly, I have decided to supplement the 2008 Puritan Reading Challenge with short biographical profiles of each author at the beginning of each month. I also hope to hunt down some quotes by others regarding the various authors which I will intersperse throughout that given month. Stay tuned in 2008 for a meet-and-greet with Puritans and those like Edwards, Spurgeon, and Lloyd-Jones who express their indebtedness.

Paul Helm on Word and Spirit in Conversion

November 1, 2007

Paul Helm has posted on his blog an important article entitled “Word and Spirit in Conversion” (incidentally something I have been studying in regards to pneumatological inclusivism). He explains, “In this paper I should like to explore the moral side to conversion and to set out two models of this aspect of conversion which have been widely influential in the history of the Christian church but which, as I shall argue, are at fundamental odds with each other.” What is particularly crucial is how Helm lays out a clear disparity between these two models of justification, viz. justification as inherent righteousness and forensic justification. Here is Helm’s conclusion (emphasis mine):

A widespread current view is that the Reformation conflicts over the nature of justification are now chiefly of historical interest. So Alister McGrath:

On the basis of the above analysis, it will be clear that, there exist real differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics over the matter of justification. The question remains however, as to the significance of these differences. How important, for example, is the distinction between an alien and an intrinsic justifying righteousness? In recent years, there appears to be an increasing sympathy for the view that these differences, although important at the Reformation period, no longer possess the significance they once had.

I happen to think that this view is profoundly wrong. And that, as someone has said, justification is ‘the main hinge on which religion turns’. Important differences about important matters should not be labelled [sic] ‘insignificant’ and then moved off stage. There are still mountains between Geneva and Rome, or rather between the view of justification by an intrinsic righteousness, whether Roman Catholic or Protestant, and justification by an alien righteousness. These mountains continue to impede the achieving of a common mind on the fundamentals of the Christian gospel. But even if you do not share this conviction of mine, but rather agree with Alister McGrath, you may nonetheless be persuaded, by what we have discussed, that although such differences may no longer be of much theological significance, they are nevertheless of considerable ethical importance, and that one feature of this importance is that they profoundly influence views of the place and the character of word and spirit in conversion.