Paul: not just a Systematic Theologian

Ottowa Theologica Hall have put together a few helpful videos, including one from Anthony Selvaggio on areas he feels have been neglected in Reformed studies of Paul. He says: “Sometimes we look at Paul as merely a Systematic Theologian rather than someone who suffered for Christ and teaches us what it is to live for Christ…The experiential, ministerial side of Paul is sometimes neglected because of our focus on the theological.”

Yet Systematic Theology is still important as Matt Kingswood explains:

The course descriptions on the OTH (Ottowa Theological Hall not Old Testament History!) site look interesting, eg:
“Marriage Counselling – This course will look at the problems in marriage, preserving marriage, getting to know your spouse, communication with your spouse, some of the killers of a marriage, and most importantly, how to make your marriage work even when you find yourself in the process of getting a divorce. The course is meant to be practical. We will look at actual situations most marriages face, and see how God would have us both face these situations and handle them in godly and loving ways that bring about godly and biblical change and glory to God.”

And here’s an enthusiastic welcome video!

Finally, here’s a Sermon Jam of Rich someone has put together:

Eight years after he spoke at the last ever Termonfeckin, Rich is still going strong, currently preaching a series on Freedom.

Synod 2014 (RPCNA) – “A great time to be Reformed Presbyterian”

The RPCNA Synod met for the 183rd time at the end of June. Nathan Eshelman again wrote daily reports for the Aquila Report website. There are lots of exciting things going on in the RPCNA at the minute. Here are some of the highlights:

Church Planting

“The Home Mission Board reported on the significant church planting that has been going on in the RPCNA. A number of years ago the synod adopted the 20/20 Vision which was 20 new congregations by 2020. The RPCNA is only four congregations away from meeting that vision.

Global Mission

“New works are being explored in India and Pakistan. There is also interest in investigating Mexico City as well as South Korea. Rev. Vince and Julie Ward, our first missionaries in South Sudan, have announced that they will be coming back to Canada in June 2015. The Board is looking for a pastor who would be willing to continue the very good work that has been done in South Sudan.

Kingship of Christ

“In the afternoon, Synod spent some time discussing how the kingship of Jesus Christ applies to us in a culture growing ever more hostile. A seven man committee was recommended to study current applications of the mediatorial kingship of Christ. At least three of the committee members will be from countries outside North America. The charge to this committee is to attempt to solidify ways we can biblically apply Christ’s kingship to our current cultural climate.

Seminary

“Dr. Jerry O’Neill, President of RPTS, spoke about his work at the seminary. He asked the court to pray that God would raise up men to fill open pulpits throughout the denomination and pulpits that will open in the next couple of years due to retirements. He also challenged Synod to consider the increasingly global nature of the ministries of both our seminary and our denomination.

In the next couple of years two strategic positions at RPTS will be open due to upcoming retirements—Director of the Biblical Counseling Institute and Seminary President. These important appointments deserve our faithful attention.

Crown & Covenant: Butterfield and Psalm singing in demand

“We heard of the work of Crown and Covenant and give thanks for the wide influence of the book Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert by Dr. Rosaria Butterfield. The book has been translated into a number of languages including Korean and Portuguese. There is also a French translation in the making. Crown and Covenant’s sales of the Book of Psalms for Worship has increased and is selling widely as a renewed interest in Psalm singing has come upon many branches of the visible church.

Ruling elders

“A study committee on ruling elders at synod reported. It was noted that it is difficult to get ruling elders to attend synod and this committee studied the reasons behind this. A few mentioned that some ruling elders thought that the courts of the church were inefficient and others mentioned vacation time needed to attend. There was a plea for more ruling elders to attend. Rev. Bruce Backensto reminded the court that ruling elders are under vows to participate in the higher courts of the church. The committee will continue to study the issue and seek to get ruling elders to come to synod.

Discipline

“The most wonderful committee report of the day was the Judicial Committee: “We have no report, Mr. Moderator.” Please continue to pray for peace in the RPCNA, that the brothers will be faithful to our confessional heritage and committed to the reformed faith and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

RP Global Alliance

“A recommendation to work toward a global alliance of Reformed Presbyterian Churches was also approved. This effort would seek to bring all of the RP bodies from around the world into greater fellowship and deliberation as we attempt to stand for the kingship of Christ in the midst of a rebellious world. It is a great time to be Reformed Presbyterian. May the Lord bless our labors and give us opportunity to exhibit humility and present the gospel of our great king and head.”

Next year the RPCNA Synod will meet concurrently with the ARP Synod – see Report 4 for more details on the $64,000 question. Looks like it will clash with our Synod.

Report 1 | Report 2 | Report 3

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The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert

Update: David Murray & Tim Challies interview Rosaria on the Connected Kingdom Podcast (31 Oct 2012)

I’m currently trying to convince everyone I meet to read the above book. I include in this post my review for the latest Messenger (digital edition should be available free here soon), but don’t just take my word for it. Carl Trueman ends his review (“Much better than the Daily Mail”) by saying:

“I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I do not agree with everything she says; but I did learn from everything she wrote. It deserves the widest possible readership.”

Here are my thoughts:

Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English Professor’s journey into Christian Faith
Author: Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
Publisher: Crown and Covenant (2012). 154 pages.

What type of person do you think is least likely to walk into an RP Church? Whatever criteria you draw up, Dr Rosaria Champagne would have been likely to tick most of the boxes. When she walked through the door of Syracuse RP Church in New York state in 1999 (after two years of weekly visits with Pastor Ken Smith and his wife Floy) she was a feminist, an associate professor at Syracuse University, teaching in one of the top Women’s Studies departments in America, and being recruited by other universities to advance radical leftist ideologies. Her speciality was Queer Theory (a postmodern form of gay and lesbian studies), and she was in a relationship with another woman. Yet a few months after that first visit to church her life was, as she puts it, ‘train wrecked’ – she was converted. Today she is an RP minister’s wife and they have four adopted children. This book is the story of her journey – not just telling the story of her conversion and its huge impact on every part of her life, but also touching on homosexuality, racism, fostering, adoption, RP worship, parenting, homeschooling and much more. It is an absolutely fascinating page-turner of a book, not least as it features many people you may well have met. Nor did Butterfield lose her critical faculties when she became a Christian – some of her critiques of attitudes she has encountered from Christians may be close to the bone, yet they are hard to argue with. You may writhe uncomfortably at times like the Geneva College chapel audience did when she told them that the reason why over 50% of Christian marriages end in divorce is that Christians act as if marriage redeems sin – when that’s something that only Jesus can do. Her take on homeschooling is also fascinating. While she ultimately embraced it as her preferred educational option, her critique of much of American Christian homeschooling culture is also intriguing. The stories of some of her and her husband’s fostering and adoption experiences range from heart-warming to heart-breaking.
I bought this book on my last day in America, started reading it on the way to the airport and had it finished by the time we got home. I would be fairly confident that many others would find it similarly unputdownable. It’s absolutely absorbing – buy a box and give one to all your friends!