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Archive for the ‘Book Report’ Category

Theology of BC

There are plenty of misconceptions about what is called “biblical counseling.” “Take a Bible verse and call me in the morning,” “Everything comes down to your sin – repent of it and everything will be fine,” and “Stop taking your medication because it’s ultimately a spiritual problem,” are just a few of those misconceptions. Others aren’t even aware that an alternative to secular psychotherapy and counseling even exists. The sad part is that through misunderstanding and ignorance, a useful tool is not being utilized.

Heath Lambert, the Executive Director of The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, has done the church a tremendous favor by writing A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry. Biblical Counseling, which has existed as a discipline since the 1970’s, has specific theological underpinnings, which Lambert explains. (By the way, so does secular counseling.) He deals with the usual categories of theology (Scripture, God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, man, sin, salvation, the church, etc.) and tells us how it relates to counseling someone using the Bible as the final authority. One of the most interesting aspect of the book are the case studies Lambert includes in most chapters, which adds “flesh and bones” to doctrine.

If you have questions about biblical counseling or have written it off in the past, please read this book. When you do, you will have read a clear presentation of biblical counseling and will know its theological foundation. You’ll have an informed opinion. If you’re committed to the practice and discipline of biblical counseling, please read this book. It’s more than a method or a strategy for counseling, it has a secure theological foundation faithful to Scripture, which is important to remember. If you’ve never heard of biblical counseling, please read this book. You’ll learn a lot about Biblical counseling, but even more about God and His Word!

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The Whole Christ, by Sinclair Ferguson, is a very good book but a very hard one to read. I don’t mean it has too many big and hard words, although it does have some. I mean that I had to read through it slowly and carefully, giving quite a bit of thought to what Ferguson presented. In some areas, you could say the grass got pretty deep and just as thick. Having said that, I recommend it but with a caveat: it will challenge you.

Ferguson uses the “Marrow Controversy” of eighteenth century churchmen to bring to light the battle between legalism, antinomianism, and having assurance of faith. All three of these issues exist in the church today. We still debate the relationship between grace and law in the life of a Christian and the church. Does being saved by grace remove the need to be obedient to God’s Law as revealed in His Word? Does repentance occur prior to faith or is it a result of faith? Ferguson delves into these issues (and more) and maintains that legalism and antinomianism (a rejection of God’s law in the life of the church and believer) are actually very similar in their foundations, and not polar opposites. This point was extremely helpful to me.

Some books should be read once and put back on the shelf. Other books, like The Whole Christ: Legalism, Antinomianism, & Gospel Assurance–Why the Marrow Controversy Still Matters, should be read and then read again. It will give you a greater, and growing, understanding of your faith and your assurance.

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And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

“Make disciples” is the one and only command in Jesus’ Great Commission to His church (“go,” by the way is not a command – it’s assumed). How we make disciples can be summed up in three letters – E. B. and C. – taken from the Great Commission itself.

The letter E stands for evangelism. Making disciples, as we go, has to begin with proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. The letter B stands for baptism. When people respond positively to the gospel and believe in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation, they’re to be baptized. So what about the letter C?

The letter C stands for catechism. I know, I know! Many evangelical Christians (especially those in non-denominational Bible churches, charismatic churches, and other non-Confessional Protestants) don’t know much about catechisms. If they do, they sometimes have an almost allergic reaction. But what Jesus says near the end of the Great Commission speaks directly to the purpose of a catechism.

A catechism teaches the basic doctrines of the faith in a question and answer format. That’s a tremendous way to teach a believer “to observe all that” Jesus commanded them.

In 2017, Crossway published The New City Catechism which is designed to accomplish just that – the discipling of believers in Christ. It contains 52 questions and answers that are meant to be memorized, recited, and learned by heart. The questions and answers are simple and understandable in an easy to read format. There are illustrations, Scripture proofs, and even answers that can be shortened in order to be more easily memorized by younger children. Importantly, helpful instructions are also provided.

Here’s the first question and answer: “What is our only hope in life and death?” “That we are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and in death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.”

I highly recommend The New City Catechism as a tool in the making of disciples – not just others, but yourself. Get it, read through it, and begin to memorize the questions and answers. You’ll be glad you did and you’ll grow as a result of it.

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Apologetics is the art and science of defending the faith – defending the truth of Christianity – Voddie Baucham shows how that can be done in the process of preaching and teaching God’s Word in his book Expository Apologetics: Answering Objections with the Power of the Word. Part of Baucham’s preaching style is to anticipate the objections of skeptics (and other non-believers), and then answer them using the text of Scripture being explained. In addition to explaining how the faith can be defended, he also demonstrates by providing a transcript of one of his sermons.

Expository Apologetics is a layman’s introduction to presuppositional apologetics, which is connected frequently with Cornelius Van Til in the early 20th century. Baucham makes the concepts of the system understandable and applicable. His treatment of Romans 1 – what everyone knows and is answerable for – is excellent.

Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ are commanded to “set apart Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within you, with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). Expository Apologetics by Voddie Baucham will help you obey that command. Tolls lege! Take up and read!

 

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The title describes the purpose of this short book: Why Christian Kids Need A Christian Education. Douglas Wilson, pastor of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho and one of the founding fathers of the Classical Christian Education movement, makes his case in 71 pages.

Wilson doesn’t get to his point right away, but spends much of his time (and ink) laying the groundwork. He does this by dealing with issues that need to be understood and embraced before the question can be answered. A few of these are knowing what a Christian worldview is and what it isn’t, the nature of education, and what everyone knows – Christian or not.

Wilson pleads for Christian parents to consider the disastrous results of government education and do something about it. Hopefully this book will help you do that.

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K. Scott Oliphant, in his book Covenantal Apologetics: Principles & Practice in Defense of Our Faith, has given us both an introduction to and a fresh understanding of Cornelius Van Til’s presuppositional apologetics.

The most popular form of apologetics (defending the faith) today is what is known as Evidentialism. In other words, we defend the truthfulness of Christianity by presenting evidence for God’s existence, His creation of the universe, the historical and literal resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the inspiration and authority of Scripture. Covenantal apologetics, on the other hand focuses its attention on the underlying assumptions we all have as fallen human beings, and then proceed from that point (while not denying the importance of evidences).

God relates to human beings on the basis of covenants. The Westminster Confession of Faith 7.1, says “The distance between God and the creature is so great, that although reasonable creatures do owe obedience unto Him as their Creator, yet they could never have any fruition of Him as their blessedness and reward, but by some voluntary condescension of God’s part, which He has been pleased to express by way of covenant.” God condescends to deal with us despite our sin, and He does it by means of covenants which are solely based on His grace and mercy.

Covenantal apologetics is based on several foundational truths. The faith we’re defending  must begin with, and necessarily include, the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), who condescends to create and to redeem. Human beings (made in the image and likeness of God) are all in a covenant relationship with God. All people know the true God (see Rom. 1). Those who are and remain in Adam suppress the truth that they know, while those who are in Christ see the truth for what it is. The suppression of truth, however like depravity, is total but not absolute. Three basic concepts should be understood and presupposed as being true: the authority of Scripture (there has to be a final word), a sense of the divine (and a knowledge of Him) in every human being, and God’s common grace in every human being.

There is some deep water in spots, but Oliphant makes his case in a way that’s understandable. Covenantal Apologetics has changed the way I think about apologetics, including wanting to read more of Van Til.

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The God Who Is There, by Francis Scaheffer, is a classic. Written in the late 1960’s, its relevancy today cannot be denied. Schaeffer had the uncanny ability to see and understand the spiritual and intellectual climate of the last half of the twentieth century. Schaeffer’s ministry, and this book, ignited a generation of Christian thinkers and apologists.

Yes, the book is that good, and yes, it’s that foundational. Historic orthodox Christianity has something to say to this culture, just like it had something to say when this book was written. In fact, it is the only solution to the problems we face. Schaeffer was interested in the logical conclusions of a person’s worldview, a presentation of truth that always takes into account the dignity and depravity of man, a commitment to remain faithful to biblical orthodoxy, and the necessity of both truth and love as we speak and as we live. All of that, and more can be found in this book.

I highly recommend The God Who Is There. It will help you understand our time (both then and now). It even has a glossary, which is helpful.

Tolle lege!

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