Ian Hamilton on why covenant children rebel

“I’ve been a minister for 36 years and I can only think of one situation where I’ve seen children rebel and it’s not because the parents have failed lamentably in the covenant upbringing of their children.”

“The reason why I put such great stress myself on how parents raise their children is because as I’ve looked at family life, it’s the tragedy of seeing fine Christians fail to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of Christ, allowing Deuteronomy 6:4-9 to permeate and penetrate every area of life”.

He also gives the example of a very fine Christian couple in his congregation who had 3 boys, who were a disaster. “He came to me one day and said I don’t know what’s wrong. Every day I read with them. Every day I pray with them. I bring them to church, morning and evening. And to my eternal shame I didn’t have the courage to say to him what I instinctively wanted to say: You’ve not loved them. There wasn’t the soil, out of which God’s word and prayer grew. There wasn’t an atmosphere of grace in the family. There was not a delighting in God. There were all the Reformed doctrines in a row confessed, but…”

He concludes: “If people could see Reformed families raising their children, with all our weaknesses, in an atmosphere of ‘let these words be upon your hearts’ before you impress them on your children, I think that the way the world and our baptist brothers and sisters would look at us would be dramatically different”.

Taken from the Q&A session following David Gibson’s talk at the Cambridge Theology Conference in 2015: The Five Points of Baptism.

Garry Williams takes on ‘Reformed’ Two Kingdoms Theology (R2K)

It’s amazing how quickly so-called Reformed Two Kingdoms theology seems to have taken root in the States. For example, it’s a staple presupposition of podcasts like Mortification of Spin. While it admirably aims to protect the centrality of the Word and Sacraments, it raises major issues for those who hold to the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ and the original Westminster Confession of Faith.

In two excellent talks on ‘Noah and the Covenant of grace’ (must listens for anyone preaching on Noah), Garry Williams destroys its exegetical foundation. The talks are part of the 2015 Cambridge Theology Conference, and available on the IPC website.

Echoes of Exodus (book review)

Alastair J. Roberts and Andrew Wilson
Echoes of Exodus
Crossway, 2018

echoes of exodus

Carl Trueman once wrote a critique of biblical theology where he said that we’re in danger of fulfilling the old joke about the Christian fundamentalist who, when asked what was grey, furry, and lived in a tree, responded that ‘It sure sounds like a squirrel, but I know the answer to every question is Jesus’. For Roberts and Wilson, the answer to every question is the Exodus. They see its pattern everywhere in Scripture. Sometimes this leads to new insights you haven’t thought of before – and other times it leaves you saying: ‘really’? For example, they comment on Gen 26:16 that ‘The Philistines have blocked all of Abraham’s wells, which might remind us of the blocked wombs they experienced when Abimelech took Sarah into his harem’. Even if it was the same word in Hebrew (it’s not), that seems a bit of a stretch.

Even when the connections they trace seem more legitimate, I was at times left wondering whether the instance they cite really was an echo of the Exodus, or whether the similarities were just due to the fact that both God (eg he tends to raise up the needy) and human nature don’t change. And even if the patterns are legitimate, it doesn’t seem like many of them would preach. Surely we would rather be saying ‘Doesn’t this remind you of Jesus’, than ‘Doesn’t this remind you of Moses’.

Of course, you don’t have to go along with every single one of their connections to enjoy the book. The book will give you a renewed appreciation of the connections between the Old Testament and the New Testament, which simply aren’t there in what is claimed as further revelation today (eg the Book of Mormon). It will also help show that when the psalm writers look back to the Exodus, they aren’t just looking back to one historical event, which needs updated now Jesus has come – they are singing of the ongoing pattern of God’s saving power. Overall though, while they are some nice insights, this isn’t a must-read.

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

Spurgeon on the Christian life (book review)

Spurgeon on the Christian Life: Alive in Christ
Michael Reeves
Crossway, 2018


One of the strengths of Crossway’s ‘Theologians on the Christian Life’ series has been in the authors with which they’ve matched the theologians. This combination of Reeves and Spurgeon is a particularly good example. Just watch his talk with the same title at the Banner UK ministers’ conference and you’ll see the relish he has in sharing some of the quotations. A ‘doom and gloom’ Christian couldn’t have done justice to Spurgeon – and Reeves is anything but that. Nor could a pretentious one; both the theologian and his biographer realise that ‘To think that difficulty of style is an indicator of depth of substance is only the mistake of the intellectually proud’.

One of Reeves’s concerns is that outside Baptist circles, Spurgeon is treated merely as a ‘fund of delicious but disconnected proverbs’. This book provides plenty of these ‘delicious proverbs’ – but it does also help see how they fit together. Spurgeon and Reeves are healthy correctives to gloomy, graceless, speculative, non-Christ centred Christianity.

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

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