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  • 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.

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THE REFORMED TRADITION

James Montgomery BoiceJames Montgomery Boice:

Reformed theology gets its name from the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation, with its distinct theological emphases, but it is theology solidly based on the Bible itself. Believers in the reformed tradition regard highly the specific contributions of such people as Martin Luther, John Knox, and particularly John Calvin, but they also find their strong distinctives in the giants of the faith before them, such as Anselm and Augustine, and ultimately in the letters of Paul and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Reformed Christians hold to the doctrines characteristic of all Christians, including the Trinity, the true deity and true humanity of Jesus Christ, the necessity of Jesus’ atonement for sin, the church as a divinely ordained institution, the inspiration of the Bible, the requirement that Christians live moral lives, and the resurrection of the body. They hold other doctrines in common with evangelical Christians, such as justification by faith alone, the need for the new birth, the personal and visible return of Jesus Christ, and the Great Commission. (Reformed Theology)

REFORMED DOCTRINES

James M. BoiceJames M. Boice writing on Reformed Doctrines:

These doctrines were not invented by Calvin, nor were they characteristic of his thought alone during the Reformation period. These are biblical truths taught by Jesus and confirmed by Paul, Peter and all the other Old and New Testament writers. Augustine defended these doctrines against the denials of Pelagius. Luther believed them. So did Zwingli. That is, they believed what Calvin believed and later systematized in his influential Institutes of the Christian Religion. The Puritans were Calvinists; it was through them and their teaching that both England and Scotland experienced the greatest and most pervasive national revivals the the world has ever seen. In that number were the heirs of John Knox: Thomas Cartwright, Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, John Owen, and others. In America others were influenced by men such as Johnathan Edwards, Cotton Mather and, later, George Whitefield. (Foundations of the Christian Faith)

A HEART OF STONE

AugustineAugustine:

Can we possibly, without utter absurdity, maintain that there first existed in anyone the good virtue of a good will, to entitle him to the removal of his heart of stone? How can we say this, when all the time this heart of stone itself signifies precisely a will of the hardest kind, a will that is absolutely inflexible against God? For if a good will comes first, there is obviously no longer a heart of stone.

When Grace Is Absent

According to John Calvin:

Augustine does not disagree with this when he teaches that it is a faculty of the reason and the will to choose good with the assistance of grace; evil, when grace is absent.”

“I consider looseness with words no less of a defect than looseness of the bowels.”

The Nurturing Church

R. C. Sproul

Quoting R. C. Sproul

“Holy mother church”—historians are not certain who first said it. The statement has been attributed by some to Cyprian, by others to Augustine. The assertion has survived since the early centuries of Christian history—”Who does not have the church as his mother does not have God as his Father.” From its earliest days, the church was given the appellation “mother.”

The use of paternal and maternal language is an intriguing phenomenon in religion. We cannot deny the virtual universal tendency to seek ultimate consolation in some sort of divine maternity. We have all experienced the piercing poignancy that attends the plaintiff cry of a child who, in the midst of sobs, says, “I want my mommy.” Who of us, when we were children, did not utter these words? Among those who are parents, which of us has not heard these words?

The nurturing function of the church most clearly links it to the maternal image. It is in the church that we are given our spiritual food. We gain strength from the sacraments ministered to us. Through the Word we receive our consolation and the tears of broken hearts are wiped clean. When we are wounded, we go to the church for healing.

Read more here. . . .

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