Great start to a book review!


“Unless you are a member of a congregation of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA, “the Covenanters”) or another similar denomination, in all probability the way your congregation worships today is not much like the way Reformed and Presbyterian congregations worshiped in the 16th and 17th centuries. If, however, you are like most other P&R Christians, you probably are not aware of that discrepancy. You might assume that the way your congregation conducts its public worship is the way the P&R churches have always done but, in fact, that assumption would not be justified.”

R Scott Clark reviews Reformation Worship

Faith. Hope. Love. (book review)

Faith. Hope. Love.: The Christ-Centered Way to Grow in Grace
Mark Jones
Crossway, 2017

9781433555664

The trailer for one of Crossway’s most recent releases, The Gospel Comes with a House Key, shows a family sitting round the dinner table singing psalms. It’s not exactly the sort of thing you expect from a publisher like Crossway, which leans more towards New Calvinism than Old. Not quite as eyebrow-raising, but still pleasantly surprising, is a book that advocates paedobaptism (and the hope we can have for the salvation of our children) and the threefold division of the law, has a chapter on the Lord’s Day, commends the psalms as Trinitarian and modern worship as not emotional enough in comparison, and advocates parenting in light of the indicatives and imperatives of the gospel. As well as that, the book has Jones’ usual Christ-centred and Trinitarian emphases, and is chock-full of quotations from church fathers, Reformers and (particularly) Puritans. The book contains 58 short chapters, each starting with a catechism-style question and answer that the chapter then fleshes out. A good few of them started life as Reformation 21 articles, so if you followed Jones before his writing got too controversial for the Alliance, you’ll recognise some of them. It’s surprising the variety of topics that can somehow be tied in to the themes of Faith, Hope and Love.

What’s not to like? 58 chapters is a bit excessive, even if they only take 5 minutes to read. They would be good pump-primers before your devotions, but 30 or 40 might have been sufficient. He also advocates lying in some circumstances as a form of love. On the whole though, this is a really strong book. I didn’t like it quite as much as his previous one, perhaps because it took so long to plough through. Both books however have the advantage of being modern works, but quote so much from a wide-variety of Puritans that you don’t feel as if you’re choosing the 21st century over the giants of the past.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Making All Things New (book review)

Making all things new: restoring joy to the sexually broken
David Powlison
Crossway, 2017

Making all things new

Tony Reinke, who I have a lot of time for, ranked this as the 8th best book of 2017. At the same time, the title and author combination might sound familiar to those who’ve read Crossway’s ‘Sex and the Supremacy of Christ’ (2005), where Powlison had a chapter by the same name. So is this a chapter’s worth of good content bulked out and marketed, or is it a worthy book in it’s own right? For the first half of the book I’d have said the former, and for the second half I’d have said the latter.

In this book Powlison attempts to address both the sinner and the sinned-against – those tempted to/committing sexual sin, as well as those whoare the victims of sexual sin. This is done from the conviction that the same gospel applies to both, which I wholeheartedly agree with – however I don’t think Powlison’s attempt to combine the two works, and two separate and shorter books would have been better.

I found the most helpful part of the book to be when he showed the sexual sin is usually symptomatic of something else, and he is good at showing both those struggling, and those counselling them, how to get to the sin behind the sin. As he puts it ‘The bible is about behaviour, but it is never only about behaviour’.

Not a revolutionary book, but helpful nonetheless.

Thanks to Crossway for a complimentary copy of this book through their Beyond the Page review programme.

Three potentially life-changing talks

I really try not to overhype things – I would rarely call a book a must-read.

But I think these three talks would revolutionise the views of many reformed presbyterians (and Reformed Presbyterians) – even a fair few ministers – on three vital subjects: preaching, the great commission and the church.

They’re the 3 best things I listened to in 2017. If you can just listen to one, go for the one on preaching.

They are by Simon Arscott and available on the IPC website, but it goes a bit weird when you try to download them, so I’ve re-uploaded them here:

1. Finding the church – the lost keys
2. Finding the church – the lost preacher
3. Finding the church – your lost mother

The Holy Spirit (John Owen) 2018 Reading Plan

Last year’s Church of Christ reading plan proved pretty successful, so this year we’re going to give John Owen a go. 12.5 pages a week will take us through volume 3 (‘The Holy Spirit’) in a year.

Making a reading plan was a lot easier this year, as the pagination in Logos is the same as the Banner edition.

Again, I’m sharing it here in case anyone else wants to join in, or finds it useful at a later date.

You can download the reading plan here.