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.

Concerning Scandal (James Durham) 6-month Reading Plan

A couple of us here in Scotland have decided to read The Dying Man’s Testament to the Church of Scotland or, A Treatise Concerning Scandal by James Durham.

If you’re not familiar with it, here’s an endorsement from the RPCNA’s Gordon Keddie (formerly Wishaw RPCS):

“This book ought to be required reading in seminaries and, indeed, for all who would serve as elders in Christ’s church. It will repay careful study and breathe grace into our handling of the disciplinary problems that often confront us. Sessions will find real blessing if they study together Part Two [public scandals], especially.” (Semper Reformanda, vol. 2 No 3)

For a brief introduction to Durham, see this Meet the Puritans post from Durham expert Donald John Maclean.

As with James Bannerman’s Church of Christ I’ve done out a reading plan, which I’ll make available here for a wider audience. You can download it here.

The schedule starts this week, but here is the original excel document so the dates can be easily modified.

The plan is based around the chapter layout of the critical text produced by Naphtali Press (available to buy in the UK from James Dickson Books), and also available on kindle.

The 1659 edition is part of a 4-book Durham collection in Logos Bible Software, which will only see the light of day if it gathers enough support in their Community Pricing scheme. It’s also available on

Church of Christ (James Bannerman) 2017 Reading Plan

A few of us have decided to tackle James Bannerman’s The Church of Christ in 2017. A quick google search didn’t come up with any reading plans, so I’ve put one together. It’s not the most polished but it should be functional at least. It’s done by sections rather than page numbers, which means it doesn’t matter whether you’re reading the original 2-volume edition (reprinted by the Banner of Truth), Banner’s nice re-set 2015 edition, or a kindle/epub edition.

The vast majority of Bannerman’s sections are around 14-18 pages, though there are a couple of longer sections, which are marked with an asterisk so you can see them coming. The reading plan doesn’t include the 128-page appendix, so keep that in mind if you’re a completionist. The appendix is divided into 9 sections, so you could do one each month that there isn’t a long section of the main book to read.

You can download the reading plan here

To whet your appetite for the book, check out these videos from Westminster Theological Seminary’s ‘Evening Discussion on the Bride of Christ’ featuring Carl Trueman, Nathan Sasser and Jonathan Leeman (I enjoyed Sasser’s talk the most):

Whitla edits new Reformation Heritage Owen book

Reformation Heritage Books have just published a modernised version of John Owen’s Rules for Walking in Fellowship, edited by our very own David Whitla. (The original title was: Eshcol; A Cluster of the Fruit of Canaan, brought to the borders for the encouragement of the saints traveling thitherward, with their faces towards Zion or Rules of Direction for the Walking of the Saints in Fellowship According to the Order of the Gospel and is found in volume 13 of Owen’s works).

As Whitla writes in the introduction (PDF):

“It takes no great insight to discern that the biblical doctrine of the church has fallen on hard times. Several contemporary trends illustrate this. The church of the living God is no longer respected as “the house of God…the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15), but is instead redefined as an “emergent” phenomenon writing its own story. Many people exchange the ministerial authority of godly pastors and elders for the unaccountability of the home church or the well-meaning pursuit of an every-member ministry. They see making a commitment to a particular local congregation by vows of
church membership as an antiquated practice at best, and an infringement of Christian liberty at worst.

And yet, ironically, in this present atmosphere there is one aspect of the church that advocates of all these positions generally agree upon: that Christians ought to live in fellowship with one another. “Community” is a buzzword that finds ready expression in all parts of Western society, and yet the church is frequently assumed to be merely a voluntary society that one may drift in or out of, with no strings attached. How curious the assumption that the fellowship of the members of the body of Christ can take place in a dismembered body, eviscerated of the elemental structures of church government, church discipline, and church membership established by its glorious Head! It was not always so…”

Carl Trueman gives the following endorsement:

“Everything Owen wrote is worth reading, but some of his books are more accessible than others. This little practical treatise is a great way to meet a great Christian mind as it deals with the most basic elements of the Christian’s life in his church. I have loved reading Owen for nearly thirty years now and return to him again and again, never without profit. Enjoy this book. And learn from it.”

The RP roots of Thomas Nelson

David Murray linked to this video the other week ahead of Thomas Nelson publishing his new book Jesus on Every Page (see forthcoming Messenger for review, interview and chance to win a copy).

Interestingly, Thomas Nelson was brought up in the RPCS. Here are a few quotes from the Oxford DNB:

“Thomas Nelson (1780–1861) was born Thomas Neilson in the village of Throsk near Stirling in Scotland, the son of William Neilson, a farmer, and his wife, Lilias Gibson. He was baptized on 1 October 1780 at St Ninian’s, Stirling, and was brought up with the strict religious outlook of the Reformed Presbyterian church (covenanters)

“At some point Nelson realized the existence of a market for cheap editions of standard, non-copyright works which he initially attempted to satisfy by publishing in monthly parts well-known religious texts such as Pilgrim’s Progress and Scots Worthies, then by issuing what became the Nelson hallmark, reprints of classics such as Robinson Crusoe, The Vicar of Wakefield, and Goldsmith’s Essays. From these beginnings the emphasis was on price—he produced inexpensive books accessible to a new reading public of the skilled working classes…


The religious nature of many of Nelson’s early publications reflected the strict religious outlook of his family. John A. H. Dempster suggests that the early history of Thomas Nelson & Sons conforms to a common early nineteenth-century model. The founder of the publishing house, actuated by zeal to spread the word of God, commences general, secular publishing as an adjunct to this. Succeeding generations inherit the prosperous business but none, or only a diluted form, of the religious motivation. The religious output decreases in proportion to the whole but often remains a steady income generator on the back list. This categorization perhaps ignores the evangelism of the educator: the urge to spread knowledge through good, cheap books across a wide section of the population, a mission which lay, however implicitly, behind the story of Thomas Nelson & Sons until its last years.”

Apparently, Thomas Nelson were Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s first publishers.

That’s all I have on him, maybe someone wants to do some more research into it!