Articles

Political Affections

Article by   September 2014
Joshua Hordern. Political Affections. Civic Participation and Moral Theology. Oxford Studies in Theological Ethics. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. x + 312 pp. $99.00/₤64.99How might theology contribute to reflection upon the recognized democratic deficit of western political societies? How might... continue

Disability Theology and Flannery O'Connor

Article by   September 2014
What does it mean to speak of disability? According to the World Health Organization, over 15% of the global population (more than a billion people) lives with some form of disability, though the difficulties of precisely defining disability are significant. Etymologically, the word simply signifies a lack of some ability. As such, it assumes some standard of ability as the norm, some set of capacities, competencies or characteristics. Various cultures have understood such norms in many different ways throughout history, very often in more or less unconscious ways. Interpretations of gender and race play an enormous role in such definitions, including what is perceived as beautiful. At the beginning and end of our lives, to say nothing of states in between, humans tend towards the loss of many abilities, existing in such fluid states of dependency that some choose to speak of normal as "temporarily-able bodied." continue

Tangled Up in Blue: Depression and the Christian Life

Article by   August 2014
"Why doesn't the church know what to do with depression?" That's the question I've been asking myself since the almost unbearably sad news broke that Robin Williams had taken his own life last week. There were a plethora of responses. Some touching. Some naive. More than a few lacking the nuances and gentleness of grace. What was undeniably clear is that we still don't know what to do with people struggling deeply with depression. Like Job's counselors, we often move too quickly to either a cause, or a quick cure. We don't know how to simply sit with people in sadness, much less know how to take their hand and walk with them through it. continue

Calvin on the Christian Life

Article by   August 2014
Michael Horton, Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 271 pp. $19.99/£12.99Crossway Books are doing the church a great service with their wonderful series on theologians on the Christian life. The epigram--'gaining wisdom... continue

Living in Wonderland or Lost in Wonder, Love and Praise

Article by   August 2014
This tenet has a host of ideas supporting it, and it may help to clarify the terms used in order to make explicit some of those ideas. When we think of the antithesis as "absolute," we are pointing to the fact that the ground or foundation of the antithesis is not measured on a relative scale. For example, the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian does not depend on how each one is acting at a particular time. It is not measured by how much "good" a non-Christian accomplishes, or how much sin a Christian commits. The way in which God has chosen to identify mankind, since the fall, is that one is either in Adam or one is in Christ. So, when God looks on the host of people on the earth, he sees those who either abide under wrath, by virtue of being sinful in Adam, or under grace, by virtue of being counted righteous in Christ. There is no third "place" to be. There is no sliding scale with God. No one can be partially in Adam and partially in Christ. One's foundation before God is defined by one of these two "Adams," the first or the last (I Cor. 15:45). Because of this, we all operate -- we live and move and have our being -- in terms of the one to whom we are united. continue

The Great and Holy War

Article by   August 2014
Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade. New York: HarperCollins, 2014. 448 pp. Hardcover. $22.99/ £18.99One hundred years ago this month marked the onset of what was then known only as "The Great... continue

Theology for International Law

Article by   August 2014
Esther D. Reed, Theology for International Law. London and New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013. 350pp. $26.99/£19.99The big issue which this book addresses is: what does theology have to say to those who argue that international relations are nothing more... continue

Union with Christ and Sanctification

Article by   August 2014
One of the chief benefits of the recent debates regarding sanctification is a renewed emphasis on the believer's union with Christ through faith. If we realize how often the apostle Paul situates our salvation "in Christ," we will also realize that Christ truly is the fountain of every spiritual blessing for the Christian. It is for this reason that the fourth affirmation of the Gospel Reformation Network on the gospel and sanctification highlights the centrality of union with Christ: continue

The German Roots of Nineteenth Century American Theology

Article by   July 2014
Annette G. Aubert. The German Roots of Nineteenth-Century American Theology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013, 402 pp. $74.00.  In this volume, a revision of her doctoral dissertation at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), Annette Aubert aims to recover the central... continue

The Gospel Includes Sanctification

Article by   July 2014
In this article, I want to examine the third of the Affirmations & Denials of the Gospel Reformation Network, which makes a point at the very heart of our concern in presenting a balanced view of the gospel: We affirm that the gospel provides salvation for the whole man, including man's need for both imputed and imparted righteousness. Matthew's Gospel tells us that Jesus began his ministry in Galilee, where he went "proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people" (Mt.4:23). continue

Paul and the Faithfulness of God: A Review

Article by   July 2014
Let me begin by stating the fact that most obviously strikes the recipient of a copy of Paul and the Faithfulness of God (henceforth, PFG): it is 1658 pages long. At one point, probably about a third of the way or half-way through, I had a feeling which - unprompted - interpreted itself in words similar to those of John Newton's Amazing Grace: 'When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun | We've no less days to sing God's praise, as when we first begun'. I felt at this stage at the book that, having read hundreds and hundreds of pages, I still had as many to go as I did when I first begun. One of the chapters is over 250 pages. But I did make it all the way through to what I assume was the George Herbert allusion at the end. continue

Objections to K. Scott Oliphint's Covenantal Properties Thesis

Article by   July 2014
Paul Helm has recently offered criticism of certain aspects of K. Scott Oliphint's book, God With Us (Crossway, 2012), and Reformation21 has published responses by Oliphint and Nate Shannon. (1) It is striking that neither Oliphint nor Shannon offers much discussion of Oliphint's central thesis and arguably his most innovative proposal, that God relates himself to the world by taking on "covenantal properties" in addition to his essence.(2) Shannon's article in particular contends that Oliphint advances the Reformed commitment to Scripture by rejecting presumably corrupt elements of the classical Reformed doctrine of God. In my estimation Shannon's criticism of the tradition is somewhat overwrought and misguided. The question of the Reformed scholastics' doctrine of God, and especially of divine simplicity, has been settled. They deny that God can add properties to himself. (3) And while the merits or demerits of that position may be debated, the issue at hand is whether or not Oliphint's own doctrine of covenantal properties is a suitably orthodox alternative to the classical Reformed teaching on God. It is my contention that it is not. In what follows I aim to briefly set forth what I perceive to be the leading difficulties with the covenantal properties thesis. This critique is here stated tersely for the benefit of those just tuning in. (4) My objections are theological in nature and do not require that one adhere to any particular school of philosophy. continue

Amazing Grace

Article by   July 2014
Eric Metaxas. Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. New York: HarperCollins, 2007. 320 pp. Paperback. $10.99/£7.99In a time when genuine heroes are scarce, a book on William Wilberforce is always welcome. Eric Metaxas wrote Amazing... continue

Sanctification and the Heidelberg Catechism, Part Two

Article by   July 2014
The HC gives serious and careful attention to the requirements of God's law as a guide for the Christian life (Q. 92-113). This section does not teach sinners how to live in order to be saved, as if salvation could be earned by works of the law. Rather, it teaches those who are already saved through faith in Christ how to "behave towards God" and "what duties we owe to our neighbor" (Q. 93). continue

Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Article by   July 2014
Thomas Piketty. Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014. 696 pp. Hardcover. $24.99/£24.99To say that Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century has become a sensation would be a... continue

Sanctification and the Heidelberg Catechism, Part One

Article by   July 2014
In the recent and engaging discussions on the doctrine of sanctification, I have found it interesting that some in my own denomination, The Presbyterian Church in America, are quicker to reference the Heidelberg Catechism (HC) than the Westminster Standards to assert their views on this crucial issue. But why? Could it be that some view the HC as less demanding in its teaching on progressive sanctification, law, piety, and good works in the Christian life? The HC is invoked to assert, among other things, that gratefulness is the sole motivation for Christian obedience, and that the only effective way to cultivate real spiritual growth is to look back to our justification in Christ. However, these views - often touted as the Reformed position - are supported neither by Scripture nor the HC. continue

J.A. Alexander 1809-1860

Article by   July 2014
Joseph Addison was born the third son of the minister of the Pine Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, Archibald Alexander, D.D., on April 24, 1809. His mother, Janetta Waddel Alexander, was the daughter of James Waddel who served as a minister in Virginia and was sometimes called "the blind preacher of Virginia." Archibald Alexander continued his pastoral service in Philadelphia until he was called by the denomination to open the doors of the Presbyterian Seminary at Princeton in 1812. At the time of Archibald Alexander's death in 1851 his seven surviving children included one daughter, Janetta (named for her mother), James Waddel, Archibald, Samuel Davies, Henry Martyn, William Cowper, and Joseph Addison. Three of the sons were ministers, two were lawyers, and one was a physician. continue

Holy Communion

Article by   July 2014
Hughes Oliphant Old, Holy Communion: In the Piety of the Reformed Church. Powder Springs: Tolle Lege Press, 2013. Hardback. 919 pp. $39.95Introduction When I was in seminary I was introduced to what is perhaps the standard taxonomy of the different views... continue

Modifying Classical Theism: Chalcedonian Theology Proper and Reformed 'Tradition'

Article by   July 2014
The campus tour offered to prospective students by the admissions office at Westminster Seminary emphasizes the institution's five distinctives. One of those distinctives is what founding professor of systematic theology John Murray called a "radically non-speculative" approach to dogmatics. All he meant is that we don't make things up. The first fact of theology is that the self-existent triune God has non-necessarily moved to create and to reveal himself to his creatures. In the words of another founding faculty member, this means that man is to be receptively reconstructive of the authoritative speech of God. Autonomy is to be avoided always. This second founding professor, Cornelius Van Til, distinguished himself by arguing that this radical prioritization of the voluntary self-revelation of God applies to all of creaturely knowledge and action, not only to dogmatic theology. Not only our doctrinal theology but our knowledge of all things is receptively reconstructive of divine revelation. Van Til had learned from Geerhardus Vos that Scripture did not drop out of the sky, offering a sect of post-Jewish religioners an exciting new way of looking at the world; rather, Scripture is the Spirit-inspired, redemptively efficacious record of the triune God's eschatological covenanting with image-bearers: a voluntary, divine condescension in the Son from beginning (alpha) to end (omega) continue

The Rise of Liberal Religion

Article by   June 2014
Matthew S. Hedstrom. The Rise of Liberal Religion: Book Culture and American Spirituality in the Twentieth Century. Oxford, 2013.288  pp. $39.99/£29.99Reformed Christians pride themselves in being well informed of major eras in the development of Christian theology. They can articulate... continue

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