Posts by Bob McKelvey

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Editor's Note: To read previous posts in this series, follow the links at the bottom of this post. We have previously considered the doctrines of justification and sanctification in our salvation from and to the law in Jesus Christ. This post will focus more specifically on the “rule of obedience”...
This post takes a look at the new animated production of The Pilgrim’s Progress , produced jointly by Cat in the Mill Studio, Herald Entertainment, Revelation Media, and Vision Video. This movie cannot be ignored; it has become an instant bestseller, has spread rapidly worldwide. There are...
David Clarkson and Soul Idolatry, Part 2: The Remedy Applied Our last post identified the problem of soul idolatry from David Clarkson's book, Soul Idolatry Excludes Men out of Heaven . For Clarkson, soul idolatry occurred in general “when the mind and heart is set upon anything more than God.”...
David Clarkson and Soul Idolatry, Part 1: The Problem Identified Recently, I was preaching from 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, where we learn of the church turning “to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven” (ESV). I took the opportunity to study the theme of...
His Sacramental Theology - The Lord's Supper In our last post, we started on Tyndale’s theology of the sacraments first generally and then specifically with baptism. We will now finish up on Tyndale with his convictions on the Lord’s Supper. The majority of Tyndale’s sacramental writing centered on...
His Sacramental Theology - Baptism I n our last post, we looked at Tyndale’s covenant theology, which contributed to the development of a mature Englished Reformed theology in the following century. This time, we will treat Tyndale’s sacramental theology in general and then baptism specifically...
His Covenant Theology I n our last post, we compared William Tyndale’s doctrine of justification with Augustine and Luther. This time, we will consider his Tyndale’s covenant theology, which played a vital role in his theology of justification. Next time, for our final episode on Tyndale’s theology...
Tyndale and Luther on Justification
His Theology of Justification Compared W e've considered William Tyndale’s doctrine of justification; now we'll compare him with Augustine and Luther. Particularly, we’ll view Luther’s prologue to Romans alongside Tyndale, since the latter depended much on the former for the flow and content of the...
His Theology of Justification Considered I n our last post, we looked at William Tyndale’s foundational theology of the Word of God. In this post, we make a start on his theology of justification. Next time, we will consider his dependence upon and departure from both Augustine and Luther on this...
His Theology of the Word I n our last post, we considered William Tyndale’s writings and will now examine his theology more closely touching on key themes. It was my intention to briefly discuss these in one post, but I quickly realized that such would simultaneously become too lengthy and...
His Writings I n our last post, we considered William Tyndale as a translator and will now look at some of his writings before examining his theology more closely next time. Much of his writing occurred in connection with his translation work in the form of book prologues. So, by the time of his...
His Translation Work I n my last post , we looked at William Tyndale’s life and work in “exile” in Europe to the time of his betrayal and death. As we noted earlier, he went there to carry on his translation work, because in England such was not only forbidden, but also found no willing printer...
Life in Exile L ast time , we looked at the proto-Puritan William Tyndale in the early stages of his life and work until he left England for Germany. In one sense, he chose this “exile”, but in another, he was forced there to finish his translation work. In this second of a five-part series, we...
Life in England R ecently , I have been immersing myself in the life and work of William Tyndale (c.1494–1536). Some time ago on this blog , I considered his biblical exegesis and called him (in agreement with many others) a proto-Puritan, which simply identifies him as an “early-stage” (a...
Moving on from a Puritan theology of the covenants, we come to consider the foundation of such in the person and work of Jesus Christ. To some extent, we have been introduced to Christ in our consideration of him as the second person of the Trinity, and specifically to our understanding of the...
M oving on from God’s historical execution (past and present) of his eternal decrees (timeless), we consider the “special act of providence” that God the creator exercised toward man when he was created (WSC, Q...
H aving considered the decrees of God or his eternal purposes in which he foreordains whatever comes to pass (WSC, Q7), we now look at how God “executes” or carries out these plans “in the works of creation and providence” (WSC,Q8). In connection with decree and execution, Edward Leigh (1602–1671)...
H aving considered God in his essence and attributes then his unity of essence in the diversity of three persons, we will know give attention to his decrees (eternal purposes) according to the Puritans. In the next post, we will then discuss how those decrees are carried out in creation and...
W e move on from discussing the Puritan view of God to consider the Trinity, the biblical doctrine of one God in three persons. Related to the one God (Q&A 8), the Larger Catechism (Q&A 9), affirms: “There be three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are...
L ast time, we considered the Puritan doctrine of Scripture. According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, the Scriptures primarily teach us “what man is to believe concerning God and what duty God requires of man.” The Bible as “a full and perfect canon” provides “the Credenda, what we are to...
S o , this is part 5 of a series I am just announcing now, which I hope is not too much of a distraction. We have looked at Puritan theology and theologizing in general in the first three posts. Then in the last, we gazed upon the natural and divine lights, as Stephen Charnock called them, denoting...
B ack in November 2017 I did a review of Wallace Marshall’s Puritanism and Natural Theology (Pickwick, 2016) in which he argued for a robust natural theology in the Puritans and one foundational to their doctrine of supernatural theology. Marshall identifies natural theology for them as “all...
M y recent posts ( 1 , 2 ) on Puritan Theology in connection with William Ames made a little light go on in my head (that happens every once in a while!) while reading Thomas Watson’s A Body of Divinity , his commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647, hereafter WSC) that was published...
I n my last post, we considered the question, “What is Puritan Theology?” We answered this question with a contextual approach to Puritanism, historically and theologically, and ended with some discussion on the experiential theology of the Puritans. We especially considered the approach of William...
A nswering the question, “What is Puritan Theology?” may sound too much like attempting to define Puritanism, a slippery term that evades a crisp definition or at least agreement on one. Indeed, there exists a great deal of overlap between Puritanism and Puritan Theology, but I hope to add a little...
T his series, “Bite-Size Bunyan,” shares John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. This fifth “bite” concerns Bunyan’s work, Profitable Meditations , Fitted to Man’s Different Condition: In a Conference between Christ and a Sinner (1661), written to help support his family during his imprisonment,...
Wallace Marshall, Puritanism and Natural Theology (Eugene, OR: Pickwick Publications, 2016), 144pp. W allace Marshall’s Puritanism and Natural Theology ably demonstrates that Puritanism in general not only theoretically developed but pastorally utilized a robust natural theology. More provocatively...
I n my previous post , we considered the response of William Tyndale to the excesses of medieval Roman Catholic exegesis, specifically the fourfold method. In line with his claim for the “single, full, and natural sense” of Scripture passages, William Perkins (1558-1602), a pioneer in the rise of...
W illiam Tyndale (c.1494–1536), the English Reformer and proto-Puritan, clearly showed a burden for providing the Scriptures in the common language of the people. Likewise, regarding biblical exegesis, he imparted correctives for the abuses of medieval interpretation. We must appreciate the...
E ven though he wrote it as relatively recent convert and at the young age of 31, The Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded (1659) is one of John Bunyan’s most theologically developed works. It also sets forth his two-covenant theology likely impacted by his reading of Luther’s Commentary on...
The purpose of this series ( #1 , #2 ), “Bite-Size Bunyan,” is to share John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. Most Christians know such works as The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678, 1684), The Holy War (1682), and Grace Abounding (1666), but what about the foundational Doctrine of the Law and Grace...
The purpose of “Bite-Size Bunyan” is to share John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. O ur second “bite” (see #1 ) concerns Bunyan’s work, A Vindication of the Book Called, Some Gospel- Truths Opened (1657), itself a response to Quaker Edward Burrough (1634-1663) who wrote The True Faith of the...
The purpose of this series, “Bite-Size Bunyan,” is to share John Bunyan’s writings in summary form. Most Christians know such works as The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678, 1684), The Holy War (1682), and Grace Abounding (1666), but what about the foundational Doctrine of the Law and Grace Unfolded (1659)...
Around the time God converted me at the age of 21, I remember embracing the reality of hell. It terrified me right into the arms of Jesus Christ. I truly sensed fleeing from the wrath to come. So, the first time I read A Treatise of the Fear of God (1679) by John Bunyan (1628-1688), I latched on to...
I n our previous three posts ( #1 , #2 , #3 ), we considered questions on hell from Puritan Christopher Love’s Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1653). In this post, we will examine his perspective on the controversial doctrine of Christ’s descent into hell. Again, I will pose the question he asks (...
In our previous posts ( #1 , #2 ), we considered questions from Christopher Love’s (1618-1651) Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1653). In this post, we will consider some more key questions that he asks on hell before considering his position on the controversial doctrine of Christ’s descent into...
I n our previous post , we considered the Puritan Christopher Love’s defense of hell-fire preaching from his sermons in Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1653). In the next two posts we will consider key questions that he asks on hell before considering his position on the controversial doctrine of...
I n the next three posts on the heavenly man, Christopher Love , I want to open up (the first of three parts) his meditations on hell from Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1653). In light of his ten sermons concerning saints in heaven (see this post ), Love treats “the tormented condition of the...
I n this second post (see #1 here ) on the heavenly man, I want to open up Christopher Love’s meditations on heaven from Heaven’s Glory, Hell’s Terror (1653). The Puritans focused much on the glories of heaven, and that in a Christ-centered manner, which encouraged them greatly during the...
T hose familiar with the Puritans may have heard the posthumous praise given of Richard Sibbes (1577-1635) by Izaak Walton (1594-1683) who claimed, “Of this blest man, let this just praise be given, Heaven was in him, before he was in heaven.” This encomium could be restated to say that the “...
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised he would build his church. How can this be, if he rose and ascended before its formal birth at Pentecost in the Acts of the Apostles (ch.2)? The book itself helps us here as the “acts” of the Apostles were carried out through the power of the Holy Spirit. The book...
G od wants Christians to baptize their infant children. It took me a while to make such a claim. I was converted at 21 and spiritually raised in Arminian Baptist circles. Eventually, I embraced the “doctrines of grace” and joined a Reformed Baptist church where I started to struggle with my...
C hristians with even a little knowledge of church history are likely aware of Augustine’s famous work, The City of God . In it, he presents his philosophy of history as he views God moving everything from creation to consummation while in cosmic warfare with Satan. Within this universal history...
I n 1995, I took a doctoral seminar class with Dr. Richard Gaffin in historical theology. Like the other students, I had to present my term paper in class. With great trepidation, I delivered my work on John Calvin’s position on saving faith and its connection to assurance. His definition of saving...
Our presbytery youth camp director this summer assigned Puritan team names for the campers: Watson, Owen, Bunyan, and Perkins. No surprise at an Orthodox Presbyterian Church camp, until the staff and counselors picked a name for their “team.” We chose “Crisp” after the alleged antinomian Tobias...
Trouble in Bakersfield I started thinking about John Bunyan (and writing this post) recently after reading Carl Trueman’s article, Trouble in Bakersfield . He highlights the demise of American pluralism where the majority sets the tone of culture while respecting the convictions of even the...
The Situation Today There exists much confusion about worship today. This remains true even in churches that claim the title "reformed" and those claiming the phrase reformata, semper reformanda (“reformed and always reforming”). Typically, the approach of most churches has been, “Whatever God has...
On two different occasions recently, I have read and heard Spurgeon’s story of the Scottish “fishwife” carrying a basket of fish while an eager young man challenged her about spiritual things. When he compared her “burden” of fish to Bunyan’s spiritual one in Pilgrim’s Progress , the woman claimed...
An Honest Admission Recently, this title in the Washington Post (Feb 4, 2016) caught my eye: “I’m an atheist. So why can’t I shake God?: Turns out it's pretty hard to believe in nothing when your psyche is wired for faith.” Elizabeth King, the author, then tells how she abandoned her childhood...
This past year we got news that our eight-year-old daughter had a spinal tumor. She was having back pain and the specialist ordered an MRI just to make sure that everything was OK. It wasn’t. I walked with the doctor into the hallway. “Based on your experience,” I asked, “Do you think this is...