• OVER 5,000 ARTICLES AND QUOTES PUBLISHED!
  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

  • Blog Stats

    • 1,396,006 Visits
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 1,268 other followers
  • October 2022
    M T W T F S S
     12
    3456789
    10111213141516
    17181920212223
    24252627282930
    31  
  • Recommended Reading

B. B. Warfield on the Religious Life

Benjamin B. WarfieldB.B. Warfield:

Time would fail me, if I undertook to outline with any fullness the method of the devout life. . . . One hint I may give you, particularly adapted to you as students for the ministry: Keep always before your mind the greatness of your calling, that is to say, these two things: the immensity of the task before you, the infinitude of the resources at your disposal. I think it has not been idly said, that if we face the tremendous difficulty of the work before us, it will certainly throw us back upon our knees; and if we worthily gauge the power of the gospel committed to us, that will certainly keep us on our knees. I am led to single out this particular consideration, because it seems to me that we have fallen upon an age in which we very greatly need to recall ourselves to the seriousness of life and its issues, and to the seriousness of our calling as ministers to life. . . . I would call you back to this seriousness of outlook, and bid you cultivate it, if you would be men of God now, and ministers who need not be ashamed hereafter. Think of the greatness of the minister’s calling; the greatness of the issues which hang on your worthiness or your unworthiness for its high functions; and determine once for all that with God’s help you will be worthy. (“The Religious Life of Theological Students,” presented at Princeton Theological Seminary October 4, 1911)

Why Christianity is Different from All Other Religions

From the writings of B. B. Warfield:

“. . . The fundamental difference between heathenism of all shades and Christianity is to be discovered in the doctrine of Vicarious Sacrifice, that is to say, in the Passion of our Lord.” This is as much as to say that not only is the doctrine of the sacrificial death of Christ embodied in Christianity as an essential element of the system, but in a very real sense it constitutes Christianity. It is this which differentiates Christianity from other religions. Christianity did not come into the world to proclaim a new morality and, sweeping away all the supernatural props by which men were wont to support their trembling, guilt-stricken souls, to throw them back on their own strong right arms to conquer a standing before God for themselves. It came to proclaim the real sacrifice for sin which God had provided in order to supersede all the poor fumbling efforts which men had made and were making to provide a sacrifice for sin for themselves; and, planting men’s feet on this, to bid them go forward. It was in this sign that Christianity conquered, and it is in this sign alone that it continues to conquer. We may think what we will of such a religion. What cannot be denied is that Christianity is such a religion. (“Christ Our Sacrifice,” The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, p. 435)

Moving beyond the Gospel?

Quoting Benjamin B. Warfield:

It belongs to the very essence of the type of Christianity propagated by the Reformation that the believer should feel himself continuously unworthy of the grace by which he lives. At the center of this type of Christianity lies the contrast of sin and grace; and about this center everything else revolves. This is in large part the meaning of the emphasis put in this type of Christianity on justification by faith. It is its conviction that there is nothing in us or done by us, at any stage of our earthly development, because of which we are acceptable to God. We must always be accepted for Christ’s sake, or we cannot ever be accepted at all. This is not true of us only “when we believe.” It is just as true after we have believed. It will continue to be true as long as we live. Our need of Christ does not cease with our believing; nor does the nature of our relation to Him or to God through Him ever alter, no matter what our attainments in Christian graces or our achievements in Christian behavior may be. It is always on His “blood and righteousness” alone that we can rest. There is never anything that we are or have or do that can take His place, or that can take a place along with Him. We are always unworthy, and all that we have or do of good is always of pure grace. Though blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, we are still in ourselves just “miserable sinners”: “miserable sinners” saved by grace to be sure, but “miserable sinners” still, deserving in ourselves nothing but everlasting wrath. That is the attitude which the Reformers took, and that is the attitude which the Protestant world has learned from the Reformers to take, toward the relation of believers to Christ. (“Miserable-Sinner Christianity’ in the Hands of the Rationalists,” chapter III in Perfectionism, Part One, vol. 7 of The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield [New York: Oxford University Press, 1932; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000] pp. 113–14)

The Object of Faith

B. B. Warfield:

The saving power of faith resides thus not in itself, but in the Almighty Savior on whom it rests. It is never on account of its formal nature as a psychic act that faith is conceived in Scripture to be saving, – as if this frame of mind or attitude of heart were itself a virtue with claims on God for reward, or at least especially pleasing to Him (either in its nature or as an act of obedience) and thus predisposing Him to favor, or as if it brought the soul into an attitude of receptivity or of sympathy with God, or opened a channel of communication from Him. It is not faith that saves, but faith in Jesus Christ: faith in any other savior, or in this or that philosophy or human conceit (Col. 2:16, 18, 1 Tim. 4:1), or in any other gospel than that of Jesus Christ and Him as crucified (Gal. 1:8, 9), brings not salvation but a curse. It is not, strictly speaking, even faith in Christ that saves, but Christ that saves through faith. The saving power resides exclusively, not in the act of faith or the attitude of faith or the nature of faith, but in the object of faith; and in this the whole biblical representation centers, so that we could not more radically misconceive it than by transferring to faith even the smallest fraction of that saving energy which is attributed in the Scriptures solely to Christ Himself. (“The Religious Life of Theological Students”)

Christian Books

B. B. Warfield writes:

Sometimes we hear it said that ten minutes on your knees will give you a truer, deeper, more operative knowledge of God than ten hours over your books. “What!” is the appropriate response, “than ten hours over your books, on your knees?” Why should you turn from God when you turn to your books, or feel that you must turn from your books in order to turn to God?

All Things for Good

Quoting B. B. Warfield:

The fundamental thought [of Romans 8:28] is the universal government of God. All that comes to you is under His controlling hand. The secondary thought is the favor of God to those that love Him. If He governs all, then nothing but good can befall those to whom He would do good. The consolation lies in the shelter which we may thus find beneath His almighty arms. We are weak, we are blind; He is strong and He is wise. Though we are too weak to help ourselves and too blind to ask for what we need, and can only groan in unformed longings, He is the author in us of these very longings—He knows what they really mean—and He will so govern all things that we shall reap only good from all that befalls us. (All Things Working Together for Good, in Faith and Life: “Conferences” in the Oratory of Princeton Seminary [New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1916], 204)

Church Organization

Benjamin B. Warfield:

“To imagine that it is of little importance how the Church shall be organized and ordered, then, is manifestly to contradict the Apostle. To contend that no organization is prescribed for it is to deny the total validity of the minute directions laid down in these epistles. Nay, this whole point of view is as irrational as it is unbiblical. One might as well say that it makes no difference how a machine is put together—how, for example, a typewriter is disposed in its several parts,—because, forsooth, the typewriter does not exist for itself, but for the manuscript which is produced by or rather through it. Of course the Church does not exist for itself—that is, for the beauty of its organization, the symmetry of its parts, the majesty of its services; it exists for its “product” and for the “truth” which has been committed to it and of which it is the support and stay in the world. But just on that account, not less but more, is it necessary that it be properly organized and equipped and administered—that it may function properly. Beware how you tamper with any machine, lest you mar or destroy its product; beware how you tamper with or are indifferent to the Divine organization and ordering of the Church, lest you thereby mar its efficiency or destroy its power, as the pillar and ground of the truth. Surely you can trust God to know how it is best to organize His Church so that it may perform its functions in the world. And surely you must assert that His ordering of the Church, which is His, is necessary if not for the “esse,” certainly for the “bene esse” of the Church.” (The Mystery of Godliness, in Faith and Life (New York: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1916), 377–78)

The Controversial Spirit

Many a person who declines controversy over the truth of Christianity has renounced his confidence in the truth; that truth which is like a torch in that – the more it shakes, the more it shines. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) writes:

Are there then to be no limits set to the controversial spirit? Assuredly there are. These limits are, however, not to be sought in motives of convenience or prudence. Christianity thrives on controversy, and exists only by virtue of it—it is in the world to reason the world into acceptance of itself, and it would surely be vain to expect the world to take its reasoning without reply. “It is the native property of the divine word,” says Calvin, rather “never to make its appearance without disturbing Satan, and rousing his opposition. This is the most certain and unequivocal criterion by which it is distinguished from false doctrines, which are easily broached since they are heard with general attention and received with the applause of the world.” “If the presence of controversy,” therefore, adds Vinet, “is not in itself the criterion of the truth of a doctrine, a doctrine which arouses no contradiction lacks one of the marks of truth.” And surely subjective motives cannot exonerate us from bearing our witness to the truth. Indeed it may be fairly argued that even subjective considerations would rather bid us advance valiantly to the defense of the truth, if it be at all the case as Dr. Hort tells us it is, that “smooth ways” in this sphere too “are like smooth ways of action … truth is never reached or held fast without friction and grappling.” And surely we will give quick assent to the same writer’s dictum that “there are other and better kinds of victory than those that issue in imperial calm.” Even a certain amount of heat in controversy may thus find its justification—in the consideration, to wit, that it is not merely the chill logical intellect which may well be enlisted in this war. The poet’s line, “And God’s calm will was their burning will,” is no libel on the spirit of God’s true martyrs and saints. (“Christianity: The Truth”)

Controversy

Many Christians will avoid controversy concerning the truth or truths of essential Christian doctrines for fear of alienating their companions. Benjamin B. Warfield (1851-1921) writes on this subject below:

It is certain that there are many in our midsts who fear controversy more than error. These assuredly do not stay to remember that Christianity’s sole weapon is reasoning, its supreme effort to reason itself into the acceptance of the world. What then will happen if it renounces the duty of reasoning? To be sure constant reasoning is weariness to the flesh, and the temptation lies very close to purchase longed-for and needed peace by calling a halt for a time and resting on what is already attained. This is much like seeking rest from the labors of life by ceasing to breathe for a season. Let us learn here from a remark of Coleridge’s. “For a nation to make peace only because it is tired of war,” he says, “in order just to take breath is in direct subversion to the end and object of the war, which was its sole justification.’Tis like a poor way sore foot-traveler getting up behind a coach that is going the contrary way to his.” Christianity is in its very nature an aggressive religion; it is in the world just in order to convince men; when it ceases to reason, it ceases to exist. It is no doubt the truth; but the truth no longer proclaimed and defended rots quickly down. The lawyers have a very instructive maxim which it will do us all no harm to heed: “A lie well stuck to,” they say, “is better than the truth abandoned.” “I have often asked my Radical friends,” Mr. Froude writes in one of his latest books, “what is to be done if out of every hundred enlightened voters two-thirds will give their votes one way but are afraid to fight, and the remaining third will not only vote but will fight too if the poll goes against them. Which has the right to rule? I can tell them,” he adds, “which will rule. … The brave and resolute minority will rule. The majority must be prepared to assert their Divine Right with their hands, or it will go the way that other Divine Rights have gone before.” Mr. Froude is dealing with political matters, and speaks of that strife with the sword which the Christian religion has renounced. But strife it has not renounced: and whenever it shall have renounced strife against its perennial foe with its own appropriate weapon—the Word—it will have renounced hope of ruling over the hearts and thoughts of men. Controversy is in this sense and to this degree is the vital breath of a really living Christianity.

%d bloggers like this: