Category Archives: Books

Institutes of the Christian Religion

Calvin’s Institutes is a great read. It is educational, convicting, comforting, and God glorifying. I highly recommend it. And, here it is for free. Enjoy.

epub format for Nook, almost any other ereader device or app

mobi for Amazon Kindle or Kindle apps

Institutes of the Christian Religion audiobook from Reformed Audio.org (Unfortunately, this is only the first six chapters of book 1. It might be worthwhile for an introduction, but is only a very small portion of the book.)

A full audio book from Librivox

How doth it appear that the Scriptures are the Word of God?

Q. 4. How doth it appear that the Scriptures are of the Word of God?

A. The Scriptures manifest themselves to be the Word of God, by their majesty and purity; by the consent of all the parts, and the scope of the whole, which is to give all glory to God; by their light and power to convince and convert sinners, to comfort and build up believers unto salvation: but the Spirit of God bearing witness by and with the Scriptures in the heart of man, is alone able fully to persuade it that they are the very word of God. – Westminster Larger Catechism

I’m reading through Johannes G. Vos’ commentary on the Westminster Larger Catechism. His thoughts on this aspect of question four seem especially relevant. I know many believe the Bible to be errant, or at least fallible when it comes to some things, but that it contains truth when it comes to things regarding salvation. I agree with Doctor Vos, if we can’t trust all of the Bible then we can’t trust any of it.

We believe that the Scriptures are entirely free from errors, not because we find no apparent errors in the Bible, for it cannot be denied that a few apparent errors have been pointed out in the Bible, but because the Bible itself claims to be free from errors. Our belief about the Scriptures must not be an inference from facts of our own experience, but a formulation of the teachings of the Scriptures themselves about themselves. If we find some apparent errors in the Bible, that is a matter of our own experience as finders. But if we observe that the Bible represents itself as being free from errors, that is an observation concerning the teaching of the Bible. We must accept the Bible’s teaching about hell and other matters. The fact is that the Bible teaches that the Bible is inerrant. Even though we may have some unsolved problems concerning apparent errors in the Bible, still these problems do not justify setting aside the Bible’s teaching about itself, unless it can be proved that the Bible really contains errors, and that they exist in the genuine text of the Hebrew or Greek original. If that could be proved, the trustworthiness of the Bible as a teach of truth on all subjects would thereby be destroyed. If we are to trust the Bible in what it says about God and man, sin and salvation, we must also trust the Bible in what it says about its own infallibility. –  The Westminster Larger Catechism: A Commentary by Johannes G. Vos, edited by G.I. Williamson. pg 13 commentary on Westminster Larger Catechism Question 4

 

Christianity and Liberalism

Dr. J. Gresham Machen
Dr. J. Gresham Machen

Liberalism, in the sense of the liberal movement in the Christian church in the 1800s, which still continues today as can be seen herehere, and in the emergent movement, is a poison in the visible Christian church. I say the visible church, as there comes a point where liberals deny Christ, deny the Trinity, the resurrection, the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, deny penal substitutionary atonement, or deny something else that invalidates the Gospel in the minds of those who believe it, and as such can no longer be considered to be Christian at all.

It is a sickness, a cancer, that spreads, among some that would lead them to turn away from the truth about God’s word, denying its inerrancy, and eventually denying its power and truth. It is unfortunately, also fueled somewhat by the public school system.

In the early 1900s, John Gresham Machen, combated what was then modern liberalism, with his book “Christianity and Liberalism.” One of his points in that amazing book, which I will link to a free copy of at the bottom of this post, was that Liberal Christianity is not Christianity at all. Instead, it is a new religion that seeks to corrupt the Christian church.

While Machen didn’t put an end to it, he dealt a significant blow to it for quite some time. I think the two world wars, and the bloodiest century of all time, may have played a role in curbing it as well. It seems that liberalism isn’t compatible with the real world, or how broken and fallen the real world is. Unfortunately, in our time of mostly peace in the United States, at least as far as the average citizen observes, the cancer began to grow back, and we have the post modern emergents. It is nothing new, different faces for the same old heresies. Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Rob Bell, Brian McLaren, and Greg Boyd being among the leaders of the new post-modern liberals emergents.

What they all have in common starts with a denial of the truth of Scripture. It starts with denying things that “no one can really know for sure,” and “things that don’t really matter all that much,” and moves on to denying the deity of Christ, the reality of hell, and Jesus being the only way to God.

Like all heresies, they are defeated by generations that came before us, but they grow back with slight mutations and must be defeated again by another generation of Christians.

Thankfully, history, and God’s providence are on our side.

That book, Christianity and Liberalism, is as powerful and relevant today as it was in 1923 when it was first published. The book is no longer under copyright as the copyright has expired. So, please feel free to download a free copy today, and to distribute it as much as you are able to. Please, for your own benefit, and the benefit of the Christian church as a whole, read it. (epub | pdf)

To read the book, I suggest Aldiko, MoonReader, or Nook for Android. Calibre works for Windows. I know there are apps for iOS, but sadly, I don’t know which to recommend, maybe Nook app for it as well?


I originally posted this on my Xanga last year. Initially I wrote this as a response to the two posts linked to at the beginning. Today I was considering removing the links, but as they serve as an example of modern liberalism, I have decided to leave them in. I haven’t had dialog with the two men since that time and I don’t know where they stand today. If you feel lead, prayer for them is appreciated.

The Conviction to Lead by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.

Book Cover: The Conviction to Lead by Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr.I don’t expect this will be something I’ll do often, as my book reviews tend to go on my other, less personal, blog. However, the author of the book, Dr. Mohler, gave me an autographed pre-release copy of the book. So, with that in mind, I will be posting my review here first, and then at my other blog in a day or so.

Leadership is a genre I tend to stay away from. Typically, I would expect leadership books to be shallow, self-centered, and a waste of time. Even more so in the genre of leadership books that are written by Christians, as most leadership has a secular business model in mind, rather than leadership within the Church or a Christian organization. So, what do you do when a man you highly respect writes a book on leadership, gives you a free copy and autographs it? You read it, learn from it, and review it, of course.

Dr. Mohler set out to make his leadership book different from others in the genre, not only to be different, but to change the way we view leadership. He wants to change things, so we view leadership as “leading with belief and conviction.”

This book is written with the concern that far too much of what passes for leadership today is mere management. Without convictions you might be able to manage, but you cannot really lead.

He focuses mostly on convictions, where they come from, what they must be, and where they lead us. Without convictions, leadership is merely management. From there, Mohler talks about the characteristics one must develop if they want to lead well. Some of those characteristics being keeping up with the happenings in the world and communicating to the world. He includes some practical tips as on how to do this, how to read, what to read, etc. along with deeper aspects, such as developing character, and how to speak with passion and conviction. The book ends talking about time, patience, endurance, death, and legacy. Without patience, one won’t endure, and their convictions will die with them, rather than leaving a legacy that shapes the organization for years to come.

Despite not being a genre I have much interest in, I enjoyed the book. It is broken into 25 small chapters, each one covering a particular topic. The format makes for a quick read, and should make it easy to go back and reread portions as a reminder to reinforce what one has learned.

Another aspect I enjoyed was when Dr. Mohler shared stories of how he learned to lead, and his leadership experiences at Southern Seminary.

From what I’ve seen, many leadership books are from questionable pastors who’s beliefs are soft, often times it is questionable if these self proclaimed leaders are even believers. Although knowledgeable about business leadership, they don’t seem to live a life that reflects the teachings of our Lord and Savior, much less lead those around them in a biblical manner.

It is one thing to write a book about leadership, it is another to be a successful Christian leader who is shaping our world today, and then document how he got there and how he leads. Dr. Mohler, is a credible source, known for his convictions, and with the experience that comes from leading one of the biggest and most influential seminaries in the nation. With this reputation, his book which documents how he leads, and why it works, is a must read.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to pastor a church or to run a Christian or other charitable organization. I’m not in any of those categories, but I did enjoy the book, and I feel I did learn from it. I’m also grateful to Southern Seminary and Dr. Mohler for giving me the book, autographing it,  and more importantly, for their work in spreading the Gospel and doing so in a clear manner, out of their deep-rooted conviction and love.

* – To clarify, I was given the book in a drawing at the potential student lunch, it was not given to me in exchange for me reviewing it, or for giving a positive review.

My mostly chapter by chapter commentary on GoodReads

Other books I’ve posted on GoodReads

On the Proper Reading of Books

In high school, and college, by God’s grace and my laziness, I didn’t really have to study. I only took notes if the teacher required we take notes, and even then often didn’t.

As a consequence of my laziness, I didn’t learn how to study, or how to take notes well. Also, since then new tools that can be used for note-taking were developed, that is the smart phone and tablet.

I learned a bit when I got saved and started reading the Bible. Not so much the note taking, but reading for a purpose other than for entertainment or facts. Learning proper hermeneutics, by God’s grace, came shortly thereafter. Very thankful for this one!

What I haven’t learned yet is how to take notes while reading a book. I’m sure I could just start taking notes, but I want my notes to be useful in the future.

So, with that in mind, I ask you, how do you take notes on what you read? In my current situation, I’m reading a book that is a little over 1,000 pages, is likely to be very deep, and I will probably want to be able to recall and locate sections or quotes quickly.

How do you take notes? Suggested methods? Tools? Paste the whole book in to Evernote  and hope their search works well?