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Beeke: Puritan Child-Rearing (Part 2) October 27, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Christian Education, Christian Parenting, Joel Beeke, Puritans.
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The second part of Dr. Beeke’s Puritan Child Rearing teaching series has been posted.

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As with the first, it is packed with thought provoking and challenging information for today’s families. It is interesting how different from today’s views of the family were those of the Puritans. There is so much we can learn from them as we navigate modern society.

Here are a few of the points that I really appreciated:

  1. Salvation and Godliness were the main purpose of education.
  2. The father was expected to lead family worship and catechize his children.
  3. Discipline was to be balanced and designed to break the will but not the spirit.

Bonar: The Everlasting Righteousness October 20, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Horatius Bonar.

A nice small book on justification, written in the beautiful yet sometimes harder to understand style of the 1800’s. Bonar writes very logically and makes good points in each chapter as he builds the reader’s understanding of the subject through out the book. The subject of justification is crucial to Christian theology and I benefited greatly from Bonar’s understanding. Following is a summary of his points.

The first chapter sets the stage reminding us of how deep our sin is and how holy and righteous God is. Based on these extremes the only option, and the option provided by God, is for us to fully rely on him for pardon.

The second chapter moves to show how God has set up the substitution of Christ as the means of our obtaining justification and pardon. Bonar walks us through the OT sacrifices and shows how they are shadows of the final sacrifice provided for us through Jesus.

The completeness of the substitution is the subject of chapter three. There are basically two points in this chapter. One that Jesus in suffering through his life on earth bore the total weight of our sin and two that his death on the cross was enough to provide justification. He points to Jesus’ words ‘It is finished’ to show that the saving work was done. The events following his death (resurrection, etc.) show that his justifying work was accepted by God. Chapter four complements the thoughts here by digging deeper into the declaration of the completeness.

Bonar then moves on to the subject of righteousness for the unrighteous showing from OT and NT passages how it is God that always provides for the righteousness of his people.  Man can only rely on the sacrifice of Jesus to be seen as righteous. This righteousness comes as free gift of faith.

‘Righteousness of God Reckoned to Us’ is the subject of the sixth chapter which details the Biblical idea of imputation by looking at several OT and NT examples. The he makes two really poignant points in this chapter. First that us needing Christ’s righteousness shows how righteous and holy God is and how sin cannot be tolerated. We need the perfect imputed righteousness to stand before God. The second point is that if Christ’s death was not to obtain our righteousness it represents a complete failure of God. God would then be helpless to defend a ‘perfect moral example’ and not in complete control of his creation.

In the next he makes the distinction between faith and Christ’s work. He first draws out the distinction between the object (Christ) and the act (faith). Showing how the object is required and without it the act means nothing. He then shows how our faith is imperfect and not what God accepts as righteousness. A great chapter all in all really expounding the wonderful gospel and how we are saved through by faith but only through God’s grace in offering to accept us through Christ’s righteousness.

Chapter 8 titled “What the Resurrection of the Substitute has Done” reminds us that while the sacrifice is what provides justification the resurrection must not be forgotten. It provides proof of the sufficiency of the sacrifice.

After building the case for justification through faith in Christ he applies the truth to the doctrine of assurance. He explains the beauty of the doctrine by comparing it to works based salvation and particular doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. It’s wonderful to remember that we are in fact saved by our faith and have this assurance, in Christ we can be sure that he provides for us. This assurance brings the glory to God and the work of Christ.  There is no glory for our works.

The final chapter ‘The Holy Life of the Justified’ brings it all together in a practical application. He shows how our obedience comes from thankfulness and love for God instead of efforts to please him. That true holiness is loving God not depriving ourselves or other outward expressions. I think so many people still miss this wonderful part of justification. Many still seem to think that we need some kind of additional motivation. Yet what could be more of a motivator than thinking of God’s gracious love and the truly great sacrifice that Christ performed on our behalf? No works are needed, his yoke is easy once you are convinced by the Holy Spirit of this great gift you life does become holy.

Highly recommended.

It is available from Reformation Heritage Books

Church Growth Methods: Amish Style October 17, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Antithesis, Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting, Evangelism.
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Gene Veith points out some interesting facts on Amish church growth. I’ve always had an interest in the Amish. It’s hard not to be inspired by people who live such a radically different life due to their Christian faith. So in turn its also interesting to read about the growth of their church.

But God blesses the evangelism that takes place in vocation, and He is powerfully at work in the vocation of parents when they bring their children to Christ–via Baptism, going to church, the day to day teaching and example that goes on in ordinary families.

What a challenge for parents to evangelize their own children. Yet what a joy to know that God truly does bless such ventures.

Another point is the number of children that the Amish have. The notion of large families really is an antithesis to the prevailing notions of family in our society. I’m really begining to ask questions about how many children I should have.

Mohler: Spare the Rod? October 14, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Al Mohler, Blog Spotting, Christian Parenting.
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Al Mohler comments on an ‘interesting’ news article on spanking. I rarely spank my son, but I do on occasion since being convicted that it is a Biblical form of discipline. However, I do believe it has to be done in a certain manner to be effective and ‘Shepherding a Child’s Heart’ by Ted Tripp has good information on that as well as parenting in general.

This quote from the article gives a good taste of Mohler’s analysis:

Kazdin is simply infatuated with “the science.” What case can be made against spanking? “It can be argued from the science,” he assures. Research “consistently shows” that spanking does not work over time.

Kazdin wants spanking to be outlawed. He reports that 91 nations have banned spanking in the schools and 23 have banned corporal punishment even in the home — generally by criminalizing parents who spank.

He also offers this news bulletin sure to attract the ire of America’s parents:

Practically nobody in America knows or cares that the United Nations has set a target date of 2009 for a universal prohibition of violence against children that would include a ban on corporal punishment in the home.

Ah, so now parents are up against, not only “the science,” but the United Nations as well. Kazdin does not call for any specific legislative provision that would ban spanking, but “we ought to be able to at least discuss it with each other like grownups.” It is time to question “the primacy of rights that parents exercise in the home.” Thanks for the warning.

Thank you science and the UN but I think I’ll stick with the Bible as my guide.

Beeke: Puritan Evangelism – A Biblical Approach October 8, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Book Reviews, Evangelism, Joel Beeke, Puritans.
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Calvinists are often accused of not caring about evangelism and I know personally its something I haven’t done much of as of yet (not because I’m a Calvinist, I’ll admit it I’m just scared). However, I as someone who knows Jesus as his savior have a strong desire to see others saved. Yet how do we go about evangelism in a Biblical manner? In this short (78 pages) book Dr. Beeke looks at how the Puritans approached evangelism.

In the short introductory chapter it is explained that the Puritans did not use the word evangelism but by their proclamation of God’s word we can rightly define them as evangelists.  The evangelistic message of the Puritans is summed up as:

“For the Puritans, evangelism not only involved presenting Christ so that by the power of the Spirit people come to God through him; it equally involved so presenting Christ that the believer may grow in Him, and serve Him as Lord in the fellowship of His church and in the extension of His Kingdom in the world.”

Here we see that the message is not only for the unsaved but also for the strengthening of those already saved. This is important for two things; first that the church is an important part of evangelism and closely related that evangelism is for believer’s as well.

In the first section Dr. Beeke examines some characteristics of Puritan preaching. He starts by explaining how these characteristic differ from the preaching that we see in most modern day preaching. He then details the characteristics.

  • Thoroughly Biblical –  The Puritans knew the word of God and worked to pull their messages from the Bible.
  • Unashamedly Doctrinal –  They preached the full doctrines of God and Christ not leaving anything out in an attempt to tickle the ears of men.
  • Experimentally Practical –  This characteristic is well explained in this quote:

“Experimental preaching seeks to explain in terms of biblical truth, how matters ought to go and how they do go in the Christian life, and aims to apply divine truth to the whole range of the believer’s experience: in his walk with God as well as his relationship with family, the church and the world around him”

  • Holistically Evangelistic – The Puritans preached to the whole man. The would not concentrate on the act of making a decision but would use the law to convince sinners of their need for salvation.
  • Studiously Symmetrical –  The message of the Puritans was well balanced. They achieved this by preaching the whole bible and appreciated each doctrine found there in.

With the characteristics of their preaching serving as the foundation, their methods are then discussed.  Three items are specified as being especially crucial for the evangelistic endeavor:

  • Addressing the Mind – The Puritans desired to show that it is foolish not to seek God.
  • Confrontation of the Conscience – This was the pressing home of the guilt of sin to drive the listener to repentance.
  • Touching the Heart – They showed the immense love of Christ, hoping for a response of gratitude.

For the most part, not surprisingly, the Puritan evangelistic endeavor was in the form of preaching. Catechizing was also importing teaching the basic doctrines of the faith to children and new believers to insure an orthodox faith.

A final section deals with their disposition.  Showing their inward focus they relied on both the Holy Spirit and prayer to focus on God’s work in the conversion of new believers.

A good book that gives you a taste of Puritan theology and practice. Its easy to see the good points in their methods. Its definitely not a ‘how to’ on personal evangelism but the individual believer finds important themes to keep in mind.  We are also reminded of the importance of the church and of our own need to be reminded of our need for a Savior.

It is available from Reformation Heritage Books

Beeke: Puritan Child-Rearing (Part 1) October 1, 2008

Posted by heldveld in Christian Parenting, Joel Beeke, Puritans, Sermons.
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Dr. Joel Beeke provides a short study on the subject of Puritan child rearing. This is very interesting and challenging information for today’s families.

He indicates that the information is primarily based on a chapter in his new book ‘Living for God’s Glory: An Introduction to Calvinism’, which I’m planning on picking up soon. He also mentions that he had to exercise restraint in not writing an entire book on the subject, I certainly hope that his will is not that strong!

He starts by explaining how the Puritan view, seeing the family as a little church and children as gifts from God, was a radical change from the medieval period where marriage and family were looked down open. I thought the Puritans had a great view of the wife, seeing her as the husband’s coworker, counselor and comforter. Three principles are then laid out concentrating specifically on newborns (and younger).

  1. Child-Rearing begins at conception where parents are to protect and care for the unborn but also importantly to pray for its salvation
  2. Mothers were to be the primary care takers, forming a bond with the child. Bonding of the family as a whole was seen as very important.
  3. Baptizing of the child since our children are born in sin it is important to recognize this but also to see them as part of the covenant.

I am really looking forward to hearing the other message(s) in this series.