Monthly Archives: November 2016

Comfort and Confidence

“Much comfort and great confidence must this administer to all that have assurance that they are of this body [i.e., Body of Christ]; for having so mighty, so wise, so merciful a head, a head so sufficient every way, who can instruct, direct, guide, govern, protect, and help them in all their needs whatsoever, what need they fear? When we are assaulted by Satan, or any way set upon by any of his instruments, or are in any distress or need, let us lift up the eyes of our faith higher than we can the eyes of our body, and in heaven behold this our head, who is invisible, and we cannot but receive from thence much comfort and encouragement” (William Gouge, Building a Godly Home, Vol. 1, 38).

Corporate Benefit of Baptism

“[A]s I argue throughout my book, baptism is not merely for the person who “gets wet,” but is for the corporate body of Christ. Every time a minster preaches the visible word through baptism, the whole congregation benefits from the sacrament, not merely the solitary recipient of the water” (Rejoinder by J. V. Fesko of Book Review: Word, Water, and Spirit: A Reformed Perspective on Baptism, reviewed by Ryan M. McGraw in The Confessional Presbyterian, Vol. 9, 197).

Task of Dogmatics

“There can be no objection to our attempts, in dogmatics as in any other science, at achieving a system that is not imposed on the truths of faith but rationally inferred from them. And the objection against this is even less weighty since dogmatics is not a kind of biblical theology that stops at the words of Scripture. Rather, according to Scripture itself, dogmatics has the right to rationally absorb its content and, guided by Scripture, to rationally process it and also to acknowledge as truth that which can be deduced from it by lawful inference. . . . The task of dogmatics is precisely to rationally reproduce the content of revelation that relates to the knowledge of God” (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1, 45).

Learning Submission for the Good of Others

“The reason why all are bound to submit themselves one to another is because everyone is set in his place by God, not for himself, as for the good of others. The apostle exhorts, “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth” (1 Cor. 10:24). Even governors are put in places of dignity and authority for the good of their subjects rather than for their own honor. Their callings are, in truth, offices of service, even burdens under which they must willingly put their shoulders. Being called of God, to whom they will give an account concerning the good which they have done to others, it is needful that they submit themselves” (William Gouge, Building a Godly Home, Vol. 1, 6).

Systematic Theology’s Necessary Speculative Dimension

“A number of sections are particularly noteworthy. The section on the covenant of redemption is excellent. What is clear from the study of seventeenth century Reformed Orthodoxy is that systematic theology must have a speculative dimension. It is not simply biblical exegesis but rather stands within the wider tradition of theological reflection going back through the Middle Ages to the patristic era. It is biblical exegesis in dialogue with prior dogmatic formulations and contemporary challenges which drive further dogmatic formulations. Like the Chalcedonian Formula, the covenant of redemption does not simply fall off the pages of scripture; it is the result of the careful co-ordination of Trinitarian and Christological concerns with the overall schema of Reformed soteriology” (Book Review by Carl R. Trueman of Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life, in The Confessional Presbyterian, Vol. 10).

Embarrassment of Riches

“In terms of extant manuscripts, the New Testament textual critic is confronted with an embarrassment of riches. If we have doubts about what the autographic New Testament said, those doubts would have to be multiplied at least a hundred-fold for the average classical author. And when we compare the New Testament manuscripts to the very best that the classical world has to offer, it still stands head and shoulders above the rest. The New Testament is far and away the best-attested work of Greek or Latin literature from the ancient world. Precisely because we have hundreds of thousands of variants and hundreds of early manuscriptswe are in an excellent position for recovering the wording of the original. Further, if the radical skeptics applied their principles to the rest of Greco-Roman literature, they would thrust us right back into the Dark Ages, where ignorance was anything but bliss. Their arguments only sound impressive in a vacuum” (Daniel B. Wallace, “Has the New Testament Text Been Hopelessly Corrupted?” in In Defense of the Bible, eds. Steven B. Cowan and Terry L. Wilder, 151-152).

Catechetical Innovation

“In mapping out its new work, the [Catechism] committee carefully observed the injunction to mind the Confession and early catechism. [The “early catechism” was abandoned; it was superseded by the Larger Catechism, and its abstract, the Shorter Catechism.] Notable was [Herbert] Palmer’s method of framing answers so that they did not depend “for their sense upon the foregoing questions.” [Footnote provides quotation’s reference, and also noting that “The Assembly’s Catechism postscript remarks: ‘So much of every Question both in the Larger and Shorter Catechism, is repeated in the Answer, as maketh every Answer an entire Proposition, or sentence in its self.'”] This innovation was carried over into the early catechisms and represented something of an advancement in catechizing technique. Now the learner could “improve it upon all occasions, for his increase in knowledge and piety, even out of the course of catechizing, as well as in it.” The Larger Catechism’s debt to the Confession is easily measured by the frequent recycling of phrases and even whole paragraphs. However, the Catechism also explored fresh areas by expanding on material covered in the Confession such as the fall, the covenants, the mediatorial office and life of Christ, and the benefits of redemption” (John R. Bower, The Larger Catechism: A Critical Text and Introduction, 19).

The Century of Catechisms

“Between the 1570s and 1660s, catechisms were so popular that over five hundred new works were published, ranging from primers for toddlers to advanced textbooks extending hundreds of pages” (John R. Bower, The Larger Catechism: A Critical Text and Introduction, 8-9).