Monday, January 30, 2012

The Law Does Not Contradict the Gospel

In his commentary on Galatians 3:21, Calvin makes some helpful comments. Often in discussions on the Law and its place in the Christian's life, the dichotomy of Law vs. Gospel is often set forth. As Calvin points out, however, this is a category error.
Paul accuses his opponents of trying to make God contradict himself. Both the law and the promises have obviously come from him, so any contradiction between them amounts to blasphemy against God...The law would have been opposed to the promises if it had had the power of justifying...but this was not possible, so any contradiction is removed.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brenz on the Gospel


By nature human beings are made in such a way that they do not want to accept anything from God free of charge but want to earn it by their works and their righteousness. It is diabolical arrogance not to want to get anything from God free of charge but to earn everything, because this is saying that we want to be God ourselves. This is what Adam began in the garden and from there it has spread to the entire human race. 
Admittedly there is a danger in teaching justification by faith to people who are rebellious and despisers of religion. But just because there is a danger in doing this, it does not follow that the church should be deprived of what is necessary for its salvation. There is danger in producing wine, because people get drunk on wine. Yet God has created wine, which is healthy if used in the right way... No work of the moral or ceremonial law can justify us in the sight of God because no work can be done by us with the degree of perfection and integrity that would be needed for God to accept it. All our good works are imperfect and corrupt. Therefore they cannot justify us... When it is said that the Gentiles are not justified by the works of the law, this does not mean that good works that are moral or part of the natural law are not to be encouraged. Of course the natural law must be observed, and anyone who does not follow it is ungodly and worse than an infidel. What it means is that the merits of our good works have no validity in the judgment of God, nor do they delivery us from the sentence of condemnation. So we must do the works of the natural law but not think that they can save us from perishing or acquit us before the judgment seat of God. There is another kind of righteousness, namely the righteousness of Christ, which is perfect and which is received by faith.


Johannes Brenz, from The Reformation Commentary on Scripture, Galatians, Pg. 70-71

Friday, January 20, 2012

Facebook Page

Just wanted to remind our readers to follow us on Facebook. Often we post links to interesting articles and ebooks that do not make it on to Bring the Books. Following us is simple, you can click this link here or click the Facebook icon in the toolbar to the left. Then "Like" our Facebook page. Once you do this, all of the content will show up in your Facebook news feed. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Is Jesus God? Edited by B.B. Warfield for $0.99

Another project of mine more recently was preparing an eBook of Is Jesus God? which is edited by B.B. Warfield, who also wrote the book's brief introduction. It was actually written by students of Princeton Seminary and published in 1912. The book is succinct and helpful on an important topic. It is now available at the Kindle Store.

The Christian Ministry by Charles Bridges for $0.99

My first book on the Amazon Kindle Store is now available for purchase. Charles Bridges' classic work on the pastoral ministry, The Christian Ministry has been a help to many ministers, and I have personally been greatly affected by Bridges' exhortations and charges to those who would minister to Christ's church. Containing the insights of a seasoned and tested pastor, this is a book that should have been available for the Kindle a long time ago.

I would request that those of you who have a chance to read the book and look over the edition I prepared write reviews so that curious readers will know that the edition I've created for the Kindle is top-notch quality. At $0.99 it is my hope that every pastor or prospective pastor would read this affordable and important work. I hope you'll also agree I have prepared easily the most attractive cover that Amazon has ever seen.

[PS: If there are any enterprising readers of BTB who can help with a better cover for the book, I'd be happy to thank them with a free copy of the book.]

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

How Not to Read

If you are the type to read quickly and to try to digest as much information as you can, then you need to read this quote. In this selection from Charles Bridges we see him reading my mind and seeing right through to my heart.
Ardent minds wish, and seem almost to expect, to gain all at once. There is here, as in religion, "a zeal not according to knowledge."— There is too great haste in decision, and too little time for weighing, for storing, or for wisely working out the treasure Hence arises that most injurious habit of skimming over books, rather than perusing them. The mind has only hovered upon the surface, and gained but a confused remembrance of passing matter, and an acquaintance with first principles far too imperfect for practical utility. The ore of knowledge is purchased in the lump, but never separated, or applied to important objects.

Some again need discretion in the direction of their study. They study, (as Bishop Burnet remarks in the conclusion of his history) books more than themselves. They lose them-selves in the multiplicity of books; and find to their cost, that in reading as well as "making books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." Bishop Wilkins ob¬serves,—There is as much art and benefit in the right choice of such books, with which we should be most familiar, as there is in the election of other friends or acquaintances, with whom we may most profitably converse. No man can read every¬thing; nor would our real store be increased by the capacity to do so. The digestive powers would be overloaded for want of time to act, and uncontrolled confusion would reign within. It is far more easy to furnish our library than our understanding.

Charles Bridges, The Christian Ministry
I am one of those who fools himself into thinking that learning by osmosis is actually possible. If I just surround myself with the things I want to learn, they will find a way to seep into my skin and become a part of my soul. Of course, Bridges brilliantly speaks as a man who has been there. I highly commend his book The Christian Ministry to you. I am currently working on an eBook version of the book which should be available in the Amazon Kindle store shortly.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Something Arminians Say, and Calvinists Would Never Say

James White, in an article for Patheos, points out that Roger Olson's argument against Calvinism is not primarily exegetical, but rather, that he judges God to be a "moral monster" if, in fact, Calvinists are right. White quotes this paragraph by Olson:
One day, at the end of a class session on Calvinism's doctrine of God's sovereignty, a student asked me a question I had put off considering. He asked: "If it was revealed to you in a way you couldn't question or deny that the true God actually is as Calvinism says and rules as Calvinism affirms, would you still worship him?" I knew the only possible answer without a moment's thought, even though I knew it would shock many people. I said no, that I would not because I could not. Such a God would be a moral monster. Of course, I realize Calvinists do not think their view of God's sovereignty makes him a moral monster, but I can only conclude they have not thought it through to its logical conclusion or even taken sufficiently seriously the things they say about God and evil and innocent suffering in the world.
Here is the question - if you are an Arminian (or one of those who refuse to self-identify but who really don't believe in divine election): have you ever heard a Calvinist say in a conversation with you, "If your view of God is right, then I can't worship that God. Your God is evil, sadistic, twisted, horrible, and He isn't worthy of my worship"? Have you ever read anything like this in books by Calvinists?

Let me answer for you - in the whole breadth of conversation and books by Calvinists, I have never heard anything even remotely like this from any Calvinist. It shows, on the part of Olson and those who agree with him, an impiety in one's approach to knowing God. Whereas the Calvinist is unwilling to stand in moral judgment over God deciding whether this or that divine attribute is to their approval, the dissenter (lets call him Arminian for lack of a better term) is often free in offering condemnation of God if He does not measure up.

Some Arminian (pardon the label) reader may see all of this as evidence for the horrible blasphemy Calvinists are at risk of if they are wrong. However, consider that the Calvinist is unwilling to accuse God of wrongdoing. Which position would you rather find yourself in:

1) Holding an honest belief that the Bible teaches election, realizing that, if you are wrong, you taught a wrong view of human/divine freedom. In either case, you have affirmed God's goodness, justice, and holiness.

or 2) Holding an honest belief that the Bible does not teach election, realizing that, if you are wrong, then you taught a wrong view of human/divine freedom. If you are wrong, then you have accused God of wrongdoing - even evil - and have spoken in a way that can only be described as blasphemous and impious.

If the Calvinist is wrong, then he must change his views of divine/human freedom. If the Olsonian Arminian is wrong, then he needs to repent of blasphemy and holding himself as a standard above God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Did Del Toro Change His Mind, Mid-Series?

[A little over a year ago I reviewed the first two books in Guillermo del Toro & Chuck Hogan's The Strain trilogy. This review of the third book assumes that you've read my review for the first two books, which you can find here.]

*Spoilers*

About this time last year I offered up that the first two books in the trilogy (The Strain and The Fall) were pretty much Left Behind for pagans. I have changed my assessment, now that the trilogy has concluded. This trilogy is Left Behind for pagans who like a little mysticism sprinkled here and there. (The more cruel among us may just say it's for fans of Left Behind.) Initially, I said that del Toro (who refers to himself as a "lapsed Catholic") had taken a naturalistic approach to vampires and that his approach appeared to be intentional. Some described the series as Stephen King meets Michael Crichton.

When I read the third and final book The Night Eternal this last week, I was dumbfounded. It seemed like the series did a 180 worldview shift. Suddenly, now that the ragtag group of rebels have their hands on the infamous vampire text the occito lumen there is this whole backstory which emerges about how The Master (the big bad vampire who is in the process of taking over the world) is actually the ancient bloodworms of an heretofore unknown archangel named Ozryel who had what can only be described as having had vampiric tendencies before his body was torn to pieces by God as a punishment for biting one of his fellow archangels (or something... it was kind of a sloppy story...). Anyway, the series went from being highly scientific/naturalistic in book one to a very hopeless, nihilistic tone in book two, and then ultimately a very spiritual, religious message and tone in the last book.

God, somehow, becomes a big player in the book, and the unlikely second half of the book involves a lot of repetitive phrases such as "Eph stabbed the vampire,"... "Eph's silver sword impaled the vampire," ... "Eph was almost a gonner, but then Mr. Quinlan saved him." I say "unlikely" second half because while The Master has guns and helicopters and weapons galore, Eph and his fellow rebels really only have the Book, a bunch of swords, and a nuke which they plan to use to blow up The Master's birthplace. This nearly all-powerful being who has subjugated the entire human race by book three simply cannot seem to catch this group of oh-so-clever humans who refused to be turned into vampires.

And in the end, there's a reason for that. God is on their side. With God as the tale's before unknown (and certainly unspoken of) deus ex machina we all know there is no stopping Eph, Fet and Nora and their nuclear dream of a world without the Master. And so the drama is stripped from the story. Don't get me wrong - I'm glad that some sort of God won the day in this book, but because he was 100% absent in the first two books, it looks a little like a series that didn't have a built-in ending.

Friday, January 6, 2012

John Owen Ultimate Collection: $2.99

After months of working time and again to create my own John Owen megabook containing all of Owen's books (and never finishing it), someone else has done it. And it's really great from the content end of things. A gigantic amount of writings have been crammed into a single Kindle file, complete with working tables of contents. At $2.99 my design qualms pale when you consider the value. Nevertheless, my complaints are as follows: (1) Tables of Contents in the front of the book have a light font color so that they are difficult to read. (2) Page breaks were not put at the ends of chapters and books. (3) Footnotes are hard to distinguish from main text. Formatting them in a smaller size would have been helpful.

Ignore my qualms. This is a great bargain. It is clear to me that when it comes to this collection, content went before design, but that's completely fine. After all, these are virtually the complete works of one of the greatest Puritan theologians. The text is accurate and does not appear to have been OCR'd. When you consider that this is a hundred times cheaper than the print editions, you understand what a great collection it is.
  • A Discourse concerning Evangelical Love, Church Peace, and Unity
  • A Brief Declaration and Vindication of The Doctrine of the Trinity
  • A Brief Instruction in the Worship of God
  • A Discourse Concerning Liturgies, and their Imposition
  • Theomachia Autexousiastike, Or A Display of Arminianism
  • A Dissertation on Divine Justice or, the Claims of Vindicatory Justice Vindicated
  • A Treatise of the Dominion of Sin and Grace
  • An Inquiry into the Original, Nature, Institution, Power, Order, and Communion of Evangelical Churches (Complete Vol. 1-2)
  • Christologia or, a Declaration of the Glorious Mystery of the Person of Christ: God and Man
  • Gospel Grounds and Evidences of the Faith of God’s Elect
  • Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ in His Person, Office, and Grace
  • Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, Each Person Distinctly, in Love, Grace, and Consolation
  • Of Temptation: The Nature and Power of it; The Danger of Entering into it; And the Means of Preventing that Danger
  • Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers; The Necessity, Nature, and Means of It
  • Pneumatologia: Or, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit
  • Several Practical Cases of Conscience Resolved
  • Salus electorum, sanguis Jesu; Or, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Saints’ Perseverance Explained and Confirmed; Or The certain Permanency of their Acceptation with GOD, and Sanctification from GOD
  • The Complete Sermons (Vol.1-2)
  • The Greater Catechism
  • The Lesser Catechism
  • Vindici√¶ Evangelic√¶: Or, the Mystery of the Gospel Vindicated and Socinianism Examined
Purchase from Amazon: $2.99