Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thanks for the clicks!


I just want to thank our readers for their clicks to the Westminster Bookstore. As you may know, when you follow our links to WTS Books, we get a small amount of credit each time. What you see above just came in the mail a matter of minutes ago. They are for my Fall seminary classes at RTS Jackson. These aren't all of the books that I need for all of my classes, but they are the books that you - our readers purchased.

One of the most exciting books, for me, is Michael Kruger's Canon Revisited. I had wanted to read it for my own edification, but now I will be reading it for Doctrine of Scripture class. I'm glad that an important work like this has been integrated into our curriculum here at RTS. We will also be reading Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum's Kingdom Through Covenant as well as Meredith Kline's The Structure of Biblical Authority for Introduction to Biblical Theology. All in all I couldn't be more thrilled about the Fall classes or more thankful to our readers.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Kindle Book: The Infallibility of the Church by George Salmon

Back in 1888 George Salmon, a mathematician and theologian, delivered a series of lectures at the University of Dublin. These lectures were later assembled into his book The Infallibility of the Church. Nick Batzig mentioned this book to me yesterday as a fantastic resource for looking at the history of the Papacy from a Protestant perspective.

You can appreciate Salmon's method by looking at the names of the different chapters:

THE CONTROVERSY WITH ROME
THE CARDINAL IMPORTANCE OF THE QUESTION OF INFALLIBILITY
THE ARGUMENT IN A CIRCLE
THE GRAMMAR OF ASSENT
MILKER'S AXIOMS. — PART I.
MILKER'S AXIOMS. — PART II.
THE CHURCH'S OFFICE OF TEACHING
THE CHURCH'S SOURCES OF PROOF
THE RULE OF FAITH
HERMENEUTICAL TRADITION
DOES THE CHURCH OF ROME BELIEVE IN HER OWN INFALLIBILITY
THE HESITATIONS OF THE INFALLIBLE GUIDE
MODERN REVELATIONS
THE BLUNDERS OF THE INFALLIBLE GUIDE
THE GALLICAN THEORY OF INFALLIBILITY
GENERAL COUNCILS. — PART I.
GENERAL COUNCILS. — PART II.
THE PREROGATIVES OF PETER
PETER'S ALLEGED ROMAN EPISCOPATE
THE INFANCY OF ROMAN SUPREMACY
THE PROGRESS OF ROMAN SUPREMACY
THE INFALLIBILITY OF THE POPE
THE POPE'S TEMPORAL POWER

After Nick mentioned the book to me, I immediately went to Amazon to find it and came up completely empty. Usually there is somebody selling a Kindle version of a book like this for a few bucks, but there was absolutely nothing. The book is (I should say, was) only available in olde thyme PDF format, however, and so I took it upon myself to create a very nice version of the book for the Kindle. It's currently up at Amazon for only $0.99. The best I can tell, there is not even a publisher who is carrying this book currently. It's pretty long, and I estimate in print it's somewhere around 400 pages. I also kept the footnotes and transliterated the languages into something that would display on the Kindle screen. On top of that, I created a working and active Table of Contents.

With all of the attention that has been given to Roman Catholicism lately, it is good for everyone to have a good historical overview of the Papacy. So if you're in the mood for a polemical, rigorously argued case against the infallibility of the Roman Church, this is your book. Even if I hadn't been the one to make this, I still would have written this post to tell you to get it, it's that good. Get it here.

PS: I've said this before, but you don't have the money for the book, just Facebook message me or email me, I'll give the eBook to you for free. I've started posting these books on Amazon for the cheapest price they allow because it actually has a much wider audience on Amazon than it does over here at our little niche blog.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Rome's Infallibility Brought to Rubble

124 years ago, George Salmon wrote a book asserting that the Catholic Church is not infallible. This book, The Infallibility of the Church is a fantastic resource for those interested in a polemical work directly dealing with the papacy. As I was reading the book, I came across this golden nugget of a quote. One might call it a 'Nostradamus' moment. In the book, he is discussing the Galileo episode. I will include the larger quote for context, but I will italicize the part which holds a special interest for us:
The present case is one of the most unpleasant that Roman Catholic controversialists have got to meet, for they cannot but be conscious that the best apologies they can offer are extremely unsatisfactory. They could save themselves all trouble if they would frankly say, 'Our Church made a great mistake two hundred and fifty years ago. She then imagined statements to be heretical which we now know were not only not heretical, but were perfectly true. She is a great deal wiser now.' Perhaps the theory of development may be improved into a form which will allow that confession to be made. But if that time comes, we need dispute no more about the Church's infallibility; the whole claim will then have been given up. Meanwhile we have to consider whether any of the attempts have been successful that have been made to free the Roman Church from the responsibility of mistakes which her rulers confessedly made at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
George Salmon could not imagine a time when a robust version of the papacy would be able or willing to admit its wrongdoing in the Galileo affair without yielding up its claims to infallibility. Fast forward to 1992. I include a quote from New Scientist magazine:
At a ceremony in Rome, before the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope John Paul II officially declared that Galileo was right. The formal rehabilitation was based on the findings of a committee of the Academy the Pope set up in 1979, soon after taking office. The committee decided the Inquisition had acted in good faith, but was wrong.
I know this is old news, but it's never too late to point out the inperspicuity and errors of the Papacy. Woe to one who puts their faith in such a supposed 'vicar of Christ.'

Stellman to Join Roman Church

I miss this picture when it was
part of Stellman's original blog.
Almost two months ago, Jason Stellman resigned from the Presbyterian Church in America because he no longer believed in sola fide and sola scriptura.  This led to accurate speculation that his public interaction with Roman Catholics on the internet had made an impact.  Many (ourselves included) made the educated guess that he might be leaning towards becoming a Roman Catholic, and that suspicion has now been confirmed.  In a piece that was posted over at Called to Communion (evidently, that is the place to do this sort of thing) called "I Fought the Church and the Church Won," Jason stated the substance of his decision.
My stated reasons for stepping down were that I could no longer in good conscience uphold my ordination vow that as a PCA minister I sincerely accept the Westminster Confession and Catechisms as containing the system of doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. More specifically, I no longer see the Reformed doctrines of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide as faithfully reflecting what the Bible teaches, which is why I will, Lord willing, be received into full communion with the Catholic Church sometime in the next several months.
What is most remarkable about the reasons he gives in the post are the very "protestant" methods which he used to arrive at a very personal judgment: "But what Catholicism is, I have come to discover, is true."  I am fine with coming to believe that a self-authenticating authority is right.  People do that every day by the help of the Holy Spirit when they believe the Scriptures.  But Rome's view is not that the Scriptures are self-authenticating.  For Rome, the teaching magisterium authenticates the Scriptures.

The thing is, the Called to Communion apologetic method is to tear down a person's faith in the perspicuity of the Scriptures so that one has no choice but to look around for a source with its own claims of authority, i.e. the teaching magisterium.  But if the Scriptures aren't clear enough to be understood in the first place, then the conclusion that the Bible teaches submission to Roman authority is self-defeating.  The Roman Catholic apologists tell you to go to Scripture to see if what they say is true, and then they tell you that you can't know what the Scriptures really say until you accept their parallel claim to authority.  However, a counter-argument for the inperspicuity of the magisterium can easily be made (this book is a great example).  If one is left with an inperspicuous Scripture and an inperspicuous Church, then all one has left is skepticism.

Another way to illustrate the irony of Jason's journey from Protestantism to Catholicism is to liken the journey to traveling a subway.  Jason's journey was through a tunnel that modern Bunyan might call 'Personal Judgment'.  Now that he has passed through that tunnel, the Pope will blow the charges behind him and tell him what a terrible way that was to travel.

For those interested, who don't live in the blogosphere, I'll show you some points of interest:
  • In the comments section over at the latest GreenBaggins post, Jason has already shown that he is now an amateur apologist for the Roman Catholic Church.  Those interested may want to see for themselves.
  • James White has written a response here and then a follow-up response here.  Jason met with during his final season of decision (call it what you will) and James shares some thoughts on their conversations together.
  • Another point of interest, which some may be interested in, is that Jason's article at Called to Communion has been taken down.  When I asked the webmaster at CtC about this he said it was removed for "personal reasons" though they hope to have it up again at some point.
  • Turretinfan has also done sort of a blow by blow commentary on Stellman's original article.  It is here that one can still read the substance of Stellman's original article from CtC.
Given the fact that for some time Jason blogged for us here at Bring the Books, we wanted to comment how delighted we are that Peter Leithart isn't claiming that Bring the Books is a gateway drug to Rome.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Facebook Deleted: Day 1 Reflections

I do not say that I will write something every day (Day 1, Day 2, etc), but I have noticed some things with actually less than a day (1/2 a day) following deleting my facebook account. For all of you readers of Bring the Books, our facebook page is still there, the President didn't take it down by an executive order via the FCC or anything.  I know you checked! Maybe not because who would actually think that would happen? My life without facebook means that I have been going through facebook withdraw. I wonder if this is what being addicted to nicotine is like.

Facebook was an idol for me. The I word. If you use facebook, it is probably an idol for you too, but not necessarily. My mom uses it and she hardly gets on. Now I am not trying to view myself as better than anyone because I left my idol behind.  In fact, it is still an idol. Let me explain why I deleted my account. I did so because it was a waste of time. I'd be working on my sermon, and I'd distract myself by checking my email and once there I'd then automactically right-click on my facebook bookmark and open up the page. I did this a lot. "Oh, I got a message and a notification. Yippee, I'm important."10 minutes later after checking the message and scrolling through everyone's updates, clicking on a link that had to do with guns or politics or something to do with Christianity I'd go back to sermon prep. A waste of time. Spending time with family and there I am checking my facebook, even responding to my wife's comments on her facebook. She was sitting right there next to me. I could've been talking with her.

How do I know facebook was/is an idol to me? Even now I'll open up my browser and look for the facebook bookmark I deleted, it won't be there, and part of me inside says, "I wish I could check my facebook to see what is happening." That's an idol. Where are my thoughts of, "I wish I could check my Bible to see what else God has said" or "I must pray so I can have communion with God right now or have that time with Him unceasingly"? My life, in fact, is not filled with prayer as I am commanded by Him for my own good and His glory. I care more about my own glory.

After I deleted my fb account, a friend (Pastor) emailed me shocked that I would leave, but then said the following:

Do you think I should leave Facebook too? [My wife and] I have talked about it.

Pro   1. I waste huge amounts of time.
2. My church members can see that I'm wasting time
3. I get frothed up over stupid things that stupid people say and are Facebook friends but not really friends. I haven't seen some of them in decades.
4. There are privacy issues with using Facebook.

Con   1. I can't send Christian related material out to people who don't otherwise get it.
2. I can't network with people in our denomination. 
3. I can't track interesting material and so on from "interest pages" otherwise.
4. I can't share pictures and so on with family and close friends  

You might be able to think of more pros and cons.

What say you?

I thought that was a pretty good Pro/Con list, except for Con #3. That could be both Pro and Con because you can live without most of the 'interesting material' you see on fb, but the Christian/Biblical stuff is usually pretty good. I responded by telling him I couldn't answer that question for him or for his wife, but here is the answer I came to: it's an idol. If Yahweh is God, then I can't be on fb. What do you think about fb?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Transcripts of Jeffrey Meyers Trial Available


Jeff Meyers graciously commented on Wes White's final post and shared a link to the transcripts from his trial. The Missouri Presbytery (MOP) found Meyers not guilty in a trial they conducted on April 13-14, 2012.


A timeline leading up to the following items can be found here.

The Meyers Investigative Committee reported to the Presbytery and their report was adopted on January 10, 2011.

complaint was then submitted concerning this action on January 16, 2011.

That complaint was reviewed by a committee and that report was adopted by the Presbytery on April 13, 2011.

A complaint was then submitted to the General Assembly concerning MOP action.

Loving the Unrepentant


Christians often believe that God has called them to forgive everyone who sins against them, regardless of their repentance. In fact, God never commands us to do such a thing, and God Himself is our example in this regard. God only forgives those with a repentant heart. How then can we love our enemies? How can we love the unrepentant? Let’s begin with the example of our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Luke 23:34, Christ prayed for His killers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” There are several possible ways to interpret these words. Perhaps Jesus was merely asking the Father to withhold His hand from destroying them immediately, since their crucifixion of the Lord of Glory was done in ignorance (1 Cor. 2:7-8). Perhaps Jesus is speaking of actual forgiveness of their sins. If so, then perhaps Jesus is praying generally and conditionally for all, similar to His request in the Garden of Gethsemane that “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” He may be saying, in effect “forgive them, but not My will but Yours be done.” Or perhaps Jesus knows that some of those participating in His execution are elect: those for whom He is currently dying. In this case, He would be praying on the basis of the atonement that He is accomplishing at that very moment, that those elect would not be damned. While commentators may disagree on the best option, we can say that any of these three options are plausible, biblical interpretations.

Matthew Henry says concerning Luke 23:34,
“This is written also for example to us. First, we must in prayer call God Father, and come to him with reverence and confidence, as children to a father. Secondly, the great thing we must beg of God, both for ourselves and others, is the forgiveness of sins. Thirdly, we must pray for our enemies, and those that hate and persecute us, must extenuate their offences, and not aggravate them as we must our own (They know not what they do; peradventure it was an oversight); and we must be earnest with God in prayer for the forgiveness of their sins, their sins against us. This is Christ's example to his own rule (“Love your enemies,” Mat. 5:44-45); and it very much strengthens the rule, for, if Christ loved and prayed for such enemies, what enemies can we have that we are not obliged to love and pray for?”
When Stephen is put to death in Acts 7 he prays something very similar to Jesus in Luke 23:34, “He cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’” As Jesus did, so Stephen prayed for his enemies, even at the point of them putting Stephen to death. This too sets forth a great example that we ought to pray for those who persecute us. His prayer preaches. It shows those who heard the prayer their sin and need of divine mercy and grace. His prayer shows charity to his killers; that he desired not their destruction but their salvation. We could think of Paul in Romans 9:3 as well, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” Paul’s love for his Israelite brothers is bold and self-denying. His longing desire is for their salvation, even if it would mean being accursed, himself, if possible. Likewise Paul says in Romans 10:1, “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.”

Luke 17:3-4 says, “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” There is the simple statement that the Christian forgives those who repent, just as the Lord forgives those who turn from their sin and turn to Him. Does that mean that a Christian can hold a grudge, hate the offender, since they haven’t explicitly repented of their sin? Does God allow Christians to hate unrepentant sinners? The above examples should be sufficient to show that the answer to both of those questions is an emphatic “No!” Luke 6:35 states (just to be clear), “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” God is kind to those who are ungrateful and evil. As God’s own people, Christians are a prime example of that. Christian, you were once separated from God, dead in your trespasses and sins. You were evil. And as God showed mercy to you so you ought to show mercy to others (Matthew 18:21-35). We ought to love the unrepentant. Yet, loving the unrepentant sinner is not the same as forgiving him.

What about the one who professes faith in Christ but is unrepentant? It looks much like Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” More specifically, it looks like Matthew 18:15-18, “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” How do you show this love? First, you seek to restore them by the Word of God, admonishing them with the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17). If they remain unrepentant through the process of Matthew 18:15ff, then eventually the elders will excommunicate them. Only then should they be treated “as a Gentile and a tax collector”.

As we have seen in our examples of Jesus, Stephen, and Paul, they loved the unrepentant through prayer to the Father: that He would not destroy them, but that they might be saved, if it be the Lord’s will. This is a prayer that those elect would not be damned. They loved the unrepentant by begging God through prayer for Him to forgive the unrepentant of their sins. Thus, they prayed that their enemies who persecuted them would see their sin and repent. Just as Christ loved and prayed for His enemies in this way, so we too must love and pray for our enemies. As Stephen prayed with loud cries before his enemies we too must pray before our enemies pleading that they would see their sin, their need of divine mercy and grace, and for God to save them.

Wes White Closing Shop - We Found a Silver Lining

Ever the opportunists, when we heard the sad news that Wes White's blog will soon be no more, we swooped right in and started recruiting.  Effective immediately, Andrew Barnes will be joining us as a fellow blogger.  Over the years Andrew has contributed to the larger Reformed conversation through his blogs over at WesWhite.net.  Now that Wes' fantastic blog is going the way of the buffalo, we are privileged to have him join us here.

Earlier this year when Heartland Presbytery brought me under care, I had an opportunity to spend some time with Andrew, as he is a teaching elder in the same presbytery which oversees my church.  Andrew is a Christian, a husband of Dena, a father of Oliver (3) and Ezekiel (newborn), and has been serving Christ’s Church as the Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri since 2011. He graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi and he loves reading the Puritans. Currently, he is preaching through the book of Genesis and the Gospel of John.

So give it up for Andrew.  If we get five comments greeting him, I'll record a video of myself eating a pack of Oreos.  That's what it takes to get five comments around here, if I remember correctly.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Completed Index of Free eBooks

In honor of the fact that this is our 1001st blog post, I thought I'd give our readers a real treat.

If you've been reading Bring the Books for more than a year, chances are you started out reading us for the free kindle books, for the Puritans, or just to find good deals on books in general.  After all these years of creating free books and also just finding amazing deals on Amazon to share with all of you, I thought it was time to sum up all that we have seen, heard, and learned.  What follows is an exhaustive list to all of the books that I have ever created and distributed for free here at Bring the Books.  They were once scattered to the four corners, but now they dwell together, here at one convenient blog post.  So here they are, alphabetized by author's last name.  As more are added, the list will grow.

A
Ames, William The Marrow of Sacred Divinity
Anselm, St. Cur Deus Homo
Athanasius The Incarnation of the Word of God
Augustine, St. The Confessions

B
Bavinck, Herman The Certainty of Faith
Baxter, Richard The Reformed Pastor
Boettner, Lorraine The Reformed Faith
Bonar, Andrew Biography of Robert Murray M'Cheyne
Boston, Thomas Humanity's Fourfold State
Boston, Thomas Commentary on the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Vol. 1 & Vol. 2)
Boyce, James Petigru Abstract of Systematic Theology *
Bunyan, John The Complete Works (3 Volumes)

C
Calvin, John Institutes of the Christian Religion (Beveridge Translation) *
Cartwright, Thomas Treatise of the Christian Religion

D
Dabney, Robert L. Systematic Theology
David Dickson Truth's Victory Over Error
David Dickson The Sum of Saving Knowledge

G
Goodwin, Thomas Commentary on Ephesians
Gurnall, William The Christian's Complete Armor (3 Vols. Complete)

H
Hodge, Charles Systematic Theology (All 3 Volumes In One) *

K
Kuyper, Abraham Lectures on Calvinism

L
Law, Henry The Gospel in the Pentateuch
Luther, Martin Bondage of the Will
Luther, Martin Commentary on Galatians

M
Manton, Thomas Sermons
Manton, Thomas A Treatise on Self-Denial
Marshall, Walter The Gospel Mystery of Sanctification
Mueller, George Autobiography

N
Newton, John The Letters of John Newton (*See note*)

O
Owen, John On the Glory of Christ
Owen, John The Death of Death in the Death of Christ

P
Paton, John G. Autobiography
Perkins, William A Golden Chain
Perkins, William Cases of Conscience
Perkins, William God's Free Grace and Man's Free Will
Perkins, William Hebrews 11 Commentary
Perkins, William Knowing Christ Crucified
Perkins, William Of Man's Imaginations
Perkins, William On Predestination
Perkins, William Salve for a Sick Man
Perkins, William Six Principles
Perkins, William The Art of Prophecying
Perkins, William Witchcraft
Pink, A.W. The Sovereignty of God

R
Ridderbos, Herman Studies in Scripture & Its Authority
Rutherford, Samuel The Covenant of Life Opened
Rutherford, Samuel Lex Rex
Rutherford, Samuel The Letters of Samuel Rutherford

S
Shedd, W.G.T. 20 Sermons to the Natural Man
Sibbes, Richard A Breathing After God
Sibbes, Richard The Bruised Reed
Sibbes, Richard The Sermons of Richard Sibbes (vol. 7 of his Works)
Spurgeon, Charles Sermons on Proverbs
Spurgeon, Charles Commentary on Matthew
Sundry Ministers The Divine Right of Church Government

T
Taylor, Hudson Autobiography
Turretin, Francis The Scriptures *

U
Ursinus, Zacharias Commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism (*See Note*)
Usher, James Body of Divinity

W
Watson, Thomas The Beatitudes
Watson, Thomas Body of Practical Divinity
Watson, Thomas The Doctrine of Repentance
Watson, Thomas The Mischief of Sin
Watson, Thomas Puritan Gems
Watson, Thomas The Saint's Spiritual Delight
Wilberforce, William Practical Christianity

Z
Zanchi, Jerome Confession of the Christian Religion


The Church Fathers

Ante-Nicene Volume 1
Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and other Apostolic Fathers

Ante-Nicene Volume 2
Hermas, Tatian, Athenagoras, Theophilus, and Clement of Alexandria

Ante-Nicene Volume 3
Tertullian

Ante-Nicene Volume 5
Hippolytus, Cyprian, Caius, and Novatian

Ante-Nicene Volume 7
Lactantius, Asterius Urbanus, Victorinus, Dionysius of Rome, and Early Liturgies

Ante-Nicene Volume 10
Deutero-Canonical Gospels, The Epistles of Clement, Origen's Commentary on John

Post-Nicene Volume 1
St. Augustine - Biography by Philip Schaff
The Letters of St. Augustine

Post-Nicene Volume 3
Augustine - Doctrinal Treatises and Moral Treatises

Post-Nicene Volume 4
Augustine - Anti-Manichean and Anti-Donatist Writings

Post-Nicene Volume 5
Augustine - Anti-Pelagian Writings

Post-Nicene Volume 6
Augustine - Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, and Homilies on the Gospels

Post-Nicene Volume 7
Augustine - Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homilies on First John, Soliloquies

Post-Nicene Volume 8
Augustine - Expositions on the Psalms

Post-Nicene Volume 9
John Chrysostom - On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters

Post-Nicene Volume 10
John Chrysostom - Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew

Post-Nicene Volume 11
John Chrysostom - Homilies on Acts and Romans

Post-Nicene Volume 12
John Chrysostom - Homilies on First Corinthians

Post-Nicene Volume 13
John Chrysostom - Homilies on Gaatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Thessalonians, Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

Post-Nicene Volume 14
John Chrysostom - Homilies on the Gospel of John and on Hebrews

Post-Nicene Volume 15
Eusebius - Church History, Life of Constantine, and Oration in Praise of Constantine

Post-Nicene Volume 16
Socrates Sozomenus - Church History


Misc. External Links
Free Greek NT for Kindle
Monergism's Free eBooks

In addition to the books that I give away for free here at Bring the Books, I also have a handful of books for sale on Amazon's Kindle Store, a couple of which are actually required reading for some of my seminary classes.

Bridges, Charles The Christian Ministry ($0.99)
Shaw, Robert Exposition of the Westminster Confession ($0.99)
Warfield, B.B. Is Jesus God? ($0.99)

*eBook was created by Zach at The Stranded Scholar, but hosted here at Bring the Books

Monday, July 9, 2012

Noteworthy Deals

Every now and then, I try to let our readers know when I find really noteworthy deals at Westminster Books.  Right now, they have a few deals that may have some appeal.

The first is D.A. Carson's Collected Writings on Scripture.  They currently have the book on clearance at 60% off.

Another great deal, if you're in the market for a premium Bible is the ESV Cambridge Wide-Margin Pit Minion Goatskin Bible.  The Bible Design Blog did a very in-depth review of this Bible, and it seems most remarkable.  Right now, this Bible, is on clearance.  I've always wanted a goatskin Bible.

If you're in the market for a commentary on Ephesians, you can't go wrong with Frank Thielman's.  It's currently 60% off.

Finally, Ryan McGraw was recently on Christ the Center to discuss his new book By Good and Necessary Consequence, where he discussed the Biblical basis for the Westminster Confession's language of "good and necessary consequence."  You can get the book for $7.50 right now.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

When did the First 'Berith' Take Place?

Kingdom through Covenant by Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum proposes to cut a middle path between dispensationalism and covenant theology. I am skeptical of such a project, but what I want to highlight is a fascinating argument which they make for the covenant of works between God and Adam. Frequently, dispensationalists will argue that covenant theologians have no textual basis for their belief in a covenant of works between Adam and God. They argue that the basis for this belief is systematics rather than an examination of the Biblical text. After all, they say - Genesis 1-3 does not contain the word 'berith' (covenant).

Gentry and Wellum point out that this is true. The word does not appear until Gen. 6:18. It then reoccurs in 9:8, 11, and 17. The argument which they make deals somewhat with the language used in Hebrew covenants. I quote now from chapter 5 of Kingdom through Covenant:
There is a conventional language for initiating covenants or treaties which is standard in the Old Testament. The standard expression for initiating a covenant is “to cut a covenant” (kārat bĕrît; 21:27, 32)...Animals are slaughtered and sacrificed. Each animal is cut in two and the halves are laid facing or opposite each other. Then the parties of the treaty walk between the halves of the dead animal(s). This action is symbolic. What is being expressed is this: each party is saying, “If I fail to keep my obligation or my promise, may I be cut in two like this dead animal.” The oath or promise, then, involves bringing a curse upon oneself for violating the treaty. This is why the expression “to cut a covenant” is the conventional language for initiating a covenant in the Old Testament.
Although I don't want to spend the post getting into the arguments behind the next assertion, I will summarize it by mentioning that the word used in Genesis 6:18; 9:9, 11, 17 is not kārat bĕrît; rather, the phrase used is in reference to the covenant with Noah is different: "hēqîm bĕrît." With Noah, God is not cutting a covenant, but rather, upholding a covenant.
...the expression “to establish a covenant” (hēqîm bĕrît) refers to a covenant partner fulfilling an obligation or upholding a promise in a covenant initiated previously...
The implications are a pretty big deal. It means that when God "establishes" his covenant with Noah, he is really simply upholding a pre-existing covenant. What covenant could this possibly be referring to? Well, of course, it is the covenant of cration, began with Adam. Noah was not the first person whom God made a berith with but rather, it was Adam. Wellum/Gentry offer a summary:
...based on the expression hēqîm bĕrît, linguistic usage alone demonstrates that when God says that he is confirming or establishing his covenant with Noah, he is saying that his commitment initiated previously at creation to care for and preserve, provide for and rule over all that he has made, including the blessings and ordinances that he gave to Adam and Eve and their family, are now to be with Noah and his descendants. This can be substantiated and further supported by noting the parallels between Noah and Adam, and between the covenant terms given to Noah and the ordinances given to Adam and his family.
Wellum/Gentry summarize the parallels between the covenant with Adam and the covenant with Noah:
Covenant with Noah: be fruitful and increase in number
Covenant with Creation: be fruitful... (Gen. 1:28)
Covenant with Noah: Fear of you 
Covenant with Creation: Rule over fish, birds, animals (Gen. 1:28) 
Covenant with Noah: Animals given for food 
Covenant with Creation: Plants given for food (Gen. 1:29) 
Covenant with Noah: Don't eat meat with blood
Covenant with Creation: 
Covenant with Noah: Your blood... his brother's life
Covenant with Creation: See Gen. 4:8-24 
Covenant with Noah: In the image of God 
Covenant with Creation: Gen. 1:27; in his own image
Wellum/Gentry devote an entire chapter in Kingdom through Covenant to this argument, and at this point the book appears to be worth the price simply for this chapter alone. The book went on sale on Friday. You can find it at Westminster Books.

[Edit (7/4): Upon reading the comments, I realized that I had misrepresented Gentry and Wellum's argument.  I changed two words in the post in order to correct this.  I had originally said that G/W believe that the Noahic covenant is an upholding of the covenant of works.  I had meant to say that they believe the Noahic covenant to be an upholding of the covenant of grace.  That would have been a pretty huge error.]