I came across a good article yesterday on some suggested readings on the Reformation that I want to share with you.
The title of the article is: 9.5 Theses: Suggested Readings on the Reformation. I encourage you to take time right now and read this article and then come back here for some thoughts and additional suggested readings.
I like articles like this that provide resources that I may learn from and grow in my faith. I dislike articles like this because my Amazon wish list tends to grow longer and longer. I think it is vitally important for us to study Church History so that we know better the faith once delivered to the saints. It is easy to have the idea that reality and church life consists of where I live on the planet and what year I was born and what year it is now. If church is only my concept of reality and time, I will distort truth and Scripture.
I have read many of these selections that Barry York has put together in his article and I look forward to reading more of them. Here are a few selections I would like to suggest to you:
The Betrayal by Douglas Bond. This is a historical fiction novel based on the life of John Calvin. It is one thing to study Calvin’s theology, it is another to read about the man and when he lived and the experiences he had. I found this a fascinating book and it made me appreciate Calvin a lot more. This is a very easy to read book for all ages.
The Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. This is more advanced reading than a historical fiction book, but well worth the time. A lengthy volume that Calvin himself divides into four books. There are reading plans where you can read bite sized portions of the Institutes throughout the year. If you are interested in a reading plan let me know and I’ll send you a link. I have benefitted by reading Calvin’s theology and I hope to finish a complete reading of this by the end of the year.
Reformation Heroes by Diana Klein and Joel R. Beeke. This is a children’s level book but of great benefit to adults as well. Each chapter is about a different person during the time of the Reformation. A great overview of people who influenced the Reformation before and after Martin Luther.
Luther and Erasmus, Free Will and Salvation edited by E. Gordon Rupp and Philip S. Watson. The reason I chose this volume instead of just suggesting Martin Luther’s, Bondage of the Will, is that this includes Erasmus’: On the Freedom of the Will, followed by Luther’s response. I think it is helpful to read from both authors regarding free will. I can honestly say this is one of the best books I have ever read.
One final recommendation is: Confessing the Faith, a Readers Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith by Chad Van Dixhoorn. Out of the commentaries and study guides I have read on the Westminster Confession of Faith this one takes the confession from the mid 17th century and places it into the 21st century and yet gives great historical insight into issues the Westminster Divines were dealing with. What Voddie Baucham does in his book Expository Apologetics by placing Van Til’s apologetic thought into simple words and application, Van Dixhoorn does with the Confession of Faith. A new study guide has just come out for the book that I have not looked at yet, but the book itself would allow families to take bite sized portions of the confession each day and learn great theology.
I know those are five, out of hundreds of choices to read regarding the Reformation and how reformation thought changed our world. If you have any suggestions of books on reformers or the reformation that you would like to recommend to me, I would love to hear them. I can always add to them to my Amazon wish list.
The Inspiration of Scripture
This is our first Friday of the month look at one of the booklets that are provided by The Committee on Christian Education (CCE) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Today’s booklet is, The Inspiration of Scripture. There are a few copies of this booklet in the bookcase at the church building in the foyer if you would like a hard copy. This booklet is not available to read online at this time.
Today’s booklet ties into last weeks sermon on The Blessing of God’s Word, http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?sermonID=101171434250. The booklet is divided into four sections: What is Scripture? What is Inspiration? The Implications of Inspiration and The Challenge of Faith.
What is Scripture?
The author, James W. Scott writes, “Scripture, then, consists of the writings (usually called “books”) that are contained in the Bible, both the Old Testament (originally written in Hebrew, during the time of the old covenant) and the New Testament (originally written in Greek, during the time of the new covenant).” Protestants recognize 27 books in the New Testament and 39 books in the Old Testament for a total of 66 books in the Bible. Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox include additional books, called Apocrypha, in their Old Testament canon. The author speaks of how we recognize these 66 books as Scripture.
The author also speaks of the original text of Scripture and discusses translation and copying issues that have taken place over the centuries. Copyists are not always perfect in their copying, but we can trust in the providence of God to preserve His Word for His people. Scripture is “God-Breathed,” 1 Timothy 3:16. “Scripture, then, is the written word of God, consisting of the written oracles of God, which have been given to us by divine inspiration.”
What is Inspiration?
“One of the most important texts on inspiration, 2 Peter 1:20-21, clearly states that “men spoke” when Scripture was being written.” God used human writers to convey His words to men. In inspiration, the Holy Spirit works in various ways upon the mind of the inspired person. The Holy Spirit can simply cause the recollection of information, or the Spirit may simply select, organize and formulate things already known to the writer. “This divine acting upon the mind of the writer of Scripture is described by Peter as being “carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21).” The author also points out that the inspired writers of Scripture were not random people, but they were people God had prepared and called to receive inspiration and to be conveyors of God’s Word.
The Implications of Inspiration
Because God knows everything and always speaks the truth and does not change, His written word is free from all inconsistencies and contradictions. God’s message unfolded over the centuries as redemptive history unfolded. “Because the author of Scripture is all-knowing, truthful, and unchangeable, it follows that Scripture cannot contain any error; that is, it is infallible. And because it cannot contain any error, it does not contain any error; that is, it is inerrant.” To have a Bible with error would be inconsistent with the very nature of God.
The Challenge of Faith
The unbeliever finds the words of Scripture foolish. The believer finds redemptive words of life. How we view Scripture says a lot about how we view God. Reason alone will never convince a person that the Bible is the very Word of God. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.
The author ends this booklet by speaking of “apparent” problem passages in Scripture and states that God has placed them there to: 1) Test the faith of readers (believers from unbelievers), and 2) To deepen the faith of believers. May we ask God, the giver of wisdom, for the wisdom to read and understand His Word better. I encourage you to take a few minutes and read this booklet on, The Inspiration of Scripture.