Book Talk


The Protestant Reformed Theological Seminary recently received the private library of Dr. Theodore Letis. In the personal library was a very rare copy of Theodore Beza’s New Testament in Greek and Latin. Apparently Dr. Letis (I have never heard of him, have you?) was a New Testament scholar who wrote to defend the Textus Receptus (the Greek text behind the Authorized Version and the New King James Version).

This is a very special addition to any library. The Prots should be happy with this rare volume. The article is here and begins on PDF page number 95. It is worth reading because it gives a short personal narrative of David Englesma’s time in seminary in the basement of 1st Prot Church. The article also shows that they are not interested in too much reading beyond their tradition (Englesma says that there were a number of books about evangelical feminism and they are going in the dumpster! Those would be useful for reference in a paper, at least… you would think!)

Congratulations to the Protestant Reformed Seminary on their recent addition to their library.

My good friend, Jason Kuiper, gave me a book on the Lord’s Day. It is one that I have been intending to read, but have not found the time due to life’s demands and other readings that are required and/or exegetical in nature.

I have been meaning to read it because I like to interact with the Emergent Church movement. I have many friends, even godly friends, who are a part of the ‘conversation’ and I do what I can to be a part of it as well (even though I am an uncool confessional-dogmatic-Calvinistic-systematic theology loving-modernist). But let’s face it- emergent I am not, even though there are some aspects of the movement that are very biblical and useful.

Today at work I took the book along in case I had some down time to read. I did; and I began reading it with much interest. I also read a lot of it this evening (some reading is like watching TV… it is just too fun to stop even though there are other things that could be accomplished.)

The book is Why We’re Not Emergent (by two guys who should be). It co-written by the Pastor of Lansing, Michigan’s University Reformed Church and some ESPN sports writer. So far it is quite good.

In their discussion of God’s knowability, here is their critique of the Emergent Church:

We may all be, by nature, like blind men touching the elephant without knowing what we are feeling is a trunk, tail, or ear. But what if the elephant spoke and said, “Quit calling me a crocodile, or a peacock, or a paradox. I’m an elephant for crying out loud! That long thing is my trunk. That little frayed thing is my tail. That big floppy thing is my ear.” And what if the elephant gave us ears to hear his voice and a mind to understand his message (cf. I Cor. 2.14-15)? Would our professed ignorance about the elephant and our unwillingness to make any confident assertions about his nature mean we were especially humble, or just deaf?

Because of the emerging church’s implied doctrine of God’s unknowability, the word mystery, a perfectly good word in its own right, has become downright annoying. Let me be very clear: I don’t understand everything about God or the Bible. I don’t fully understand how God can be three in one. I don’t completely grasp how divine sovereignty works alongside human responsibility. The Christian faith is mysterious. But when we talk about Christianity, we don’t start with mystery. It’s some combination of pious confusion and intellectual laziness to claim that living in mystery is at the heart of Christianity.

If you are emergent, pick it up and read it. If you are not emergent: it gives a balanced approach to why you shouldn’t be- all with humor, grace, and respect for the brethren in this movement.

When Dr. Louis Berkhof published his Systematic Theology in 1932 it was for a number of reasons. One of the reasons that Dr. Berkhof gave was that the students at Calvin Seminary could not read Dutch like they used to ‘in his day’.

The shame of Berkhof writing a Systematic Theology was two fold (of course, there were some good reasons as well):

1. Students did not feel the need to learn Dutch any more, hence the CRC lost a lot of her Dutch experiential history and writings.
2. The need for Dr. Herman Bavinck’s Gereformeerde dogmatiek to be translated into English was lost.

Fourteen years ago, The Dutch Reformed Translation Society began a project. They saw the need for this massive Reformed Dogmatics to be translated into English and to be made available at a reasonable price.

Well, last month marked the release of volume 4, thus bringing to a close this massive project.

Personally, reading Bavinck has been an incredible experience in systematics reading. Watching the books come out, over my seminary experience, has been like kids waiting for the newest baseball cards to be released (do kids still do this? Or all they all sitting and playing Wii all day?)! I am sure that any student/pastor/teacher/elder that reads systematic theology will tell you that Bavinck is a great boon to what is available in Reformed readings.

To celebrate this massive feat, Reformation Heritage Books is offering all 4 volumes for $100. This is $80 off the retail price. (This is a great price for a 14 year project, and 1000s of pages of writing!).

Sometimes Christians become confused about the language of Scripture that deals with God’s electing love versus our responsibility to choose Him.

Last evening, First RP concluded another Puritan Paperback (we are working through the series one book at a time). We just completed The Christian’s Great Interest by William Guthrie.

He answers many objections to faith in Christ and has a wonderful section on personal covenanting. Here is his response to those confused about the language of Scripture concerning sovereign love and personal responsibility:

O then, it is a coming on our part, and yet a drawing on His part; ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father, which has sent Me, draw him.’ (John 6: 44.) It is a drawing on His part, and a running on our part–‘Draw me, we will run after Thee.’ (Cant. 1:4.) It is an approaching on our part, and yet a ‘choosing and causing to approach’ on His part. (Psa. 65: 4.) It is a believing or receiving on our part–‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name;’ and yet ‘it is given us to believe.’ (John 1: 12; Phil. 1:29.)

Next month we are reading The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Watson. Feel free to join us!

As Christians we are people of The Book. We are to be in the Scriptures and to be people that love the written word, since this is the way that God chose to reveal Himself to men.

Out of a love for the Word of God often flows a love for literature that strengthens our love for the Word and the God of the Bible. God has given us 2000 years of post-resurrection literature that stands as a testimony of His love and faithfulness to His bride. When asked about what Christians should be reading, Charles Spurgeon replied:

As the apostle says to Timothy, so also he says to every-one, ‘Give yourself to reading.’ … He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves that he has no brains of his own… You need to read. Renounce as much as you will all light literature, but study as much as possible sound theological works, especially the Puritanic writers, and expositions of the Bible… the best way for you to spend your leisure is to be either reading or praying.”

I have meaning to link this, but have forgotten on numerous occasions. Reformation Heritage Books now has a blog called: Reformation Heritage Book Talk. You will be able to read reviews of RHB titles as well as read and hear interviews with some of their authors and booksellers.

My friend, Michael Dewalt, is the administrator and may be emailed with your reviews of RHB titles.

Enjoy!

‘Bernard of Clairvaux, a man so godly, so holy, so pure, that we should commend and prefer him before all the theologians of the Church.”

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