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Worshipping With Calvin: Recovering The Historic Ministry and Worship of Reformed Protestantism by Terry L. Johnson

Worshipping with Calvin is a book that deserves a wide readership.  This book is most likely to appeal to Pastors, Music Ministers, and those in leadership of the church, but would be helpful to all of those in the pews as well.  This is an excellent book that describes the history and benefits of Reformed worship that exemplified in the liturgies of John Calvin and other reformational pastors and those reformed men who followed them.  It shows how the ministry and worship of the reformation was really a recovery of the best of the early church Patristics and ultimately and expression of Biblical worship.  One may not be convinced at every point along the way but it is definitely a primer to get one thinking about the hows and whys of our corporate worship of God, but Johnson does write in a very convincing manner.  If interested in how we ought to worship God then pick up this book.

 

The entire work may be summed up in that our corporate worship should be God centered and done in the ways God prescribes.  It is kept God centered by being Bible filled, we see worked out through the pages of this book that we are to read the bible, preach the bible, sing the bible, pray the bible and more be structured by the Bible all of this done dependent upon the Holy Spirit.  This is something not many would argue against but practically are our churches worshiping in a manner consistent with these principles.  We have a limited amount of time each Lord’s Day so we must be aware that everything done outside of what God has prescribed for us to worship Him takes away from those.  The book places an emphasis on the ordinary, or the simple in worship and therefore Johnson argues the Spiritual.  The ordinary means of grace; word, sacraments, and prayer along with singing of Psalms and Hymns are the authors argues the God ordained and most proper ways to worship God and spend our time gathered together.  Convinced of much of this already this book really deepened my understanding of the ordinary means of grace and thankfulness for them.

 

Areas that I found very interesting where the discussions on singing of Psalms and the structure of the worship service.  Having never sang and metrical Psalm in a church service his description of the history and benefits of Psalm singing were great.  Also being taught by the author that the structure or form of our worship services says something was an enlightening aspect of the book.  He talks about how the structure of reformed worship is intentional and gospel centered showing how the structure speaks as well as what is being said does.  He quotes Michael Horton saying the liturgy provides “ways of preaching the Word even before the sermon begins”.  There was much more new that I learned reading this book but those are just a couple that stuck out. 

The few critiques I have of the book are miniscule.  First is the often referenced and quoted Richard Baxter.  Several of Baxter’s works have been republished recently and even one called the “reformed pastor” and he is often talked about side by side with the reformers and puritans as one of the guys.  Yet from what I have read and heard he has some very dangerous views on justification that would be outside of the reformed doctrine of Justification by faith alone in Christ alone by the imputation of Christ righteousness.  I wish he would have made a reference in saying while Baxter’s views on worship may be helpful you want to be warned of his unorthodox views on justification.  Feel free to correct me in comments on this if I am wrong.

Another would be what I thought was a strange section where he talks about Roman Catholic missionary Matthew Ricci and says he was “… among the most successful missionaries in the history of the church.”  I hope he is saying successful in the view of Roman Catholics but bringing men into the Roman Catholic church doesn’t qualify as a successful missionary in my thinking. See page 278 for referenece. 

Lastly of concern is his doctrine of infant baptism, while I agree that baptism is a means of grace, I am a Baptist so believe infant baptism is not taught in the scriptures and is for disciples alone.  But I won’t write much on that because the book is written by a Presbyterian so it is to be expected and would be wrong if he did not defend the importance of his position.

I would recommend this book especially to those who may be considered the “young, restless, and reformed” as I know many men who have embrace the doctrines of grace but have not yet come to grasp the importance of the ordinary means of grace and the church gathered to worship.  Also excitingly the author notes that there is a follow up volume in the works dealing with the implementation of this books subject. The title for the next volume is to be “Serving with Calvin”.

Published: 2014

Publishier: Evangelical Press (EP)

Pages: 433 (320 text then bibliography and notes)

Binding: glue

Boards: Paperback (has a nice feel to it in your hands, maybe in analogy it is like eggshell paint compared to gloss, I like it a lot better than many paperbacks I have.)

Paper and typeset: The paper is thick and decent quality allowing notes with minimal bleeding and also margins are fairly wide allowing for notes and didn’t creep too far down page towards the spine for ease of reading.  The typeset was nice allowing for easy reading.

Bibliography: yes and with table of contents, is 47 pages long

Scripture index: no

index of persons: no

subject index: no

endnotes or footnotes: endnotes 75 pages of notes so made for a lot of flipping back and forth but some good material there.

This book was given to me by the publisher  in exchange for a review not required to be positive.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert

Forward by David Platt

I have seen this book on so many online retailers and reviews in magazines and on blogs I was very interested to read it.  I have seen very positive reviews of the book and I will for the most part agree with those.  This is a book that is helpful but may not be for everyone.  The book goes into great depth on dealing with helping those in poverty and defining what poverty is.  It discusses several methods to approaching alleviating poverty with different financial strategies.

 

I would recommend this book to those who are involved in different organizations that deal with the poor and pastors predominately.  Much of the warnings are very helpful to have a grasp of even as I was thinking of the kind of charity and work that my small group bible study partakes in.  But as far as the forming financial institutions in the majority world and how homeless shelters and like ministries might work this book would be of great help for those in leadership there.  This book will help these leaders to think more critically about how they help the poor and how they shouldn’t.

 

My qualms with this book are small and even nit picking. The authors even address my concerns to an extent.  They say on page 235 “ Space does not permit a full discussion of the issues involved in finding the proper limits of the institutional church’s involvement with the larger community, and we recognize that sincere Christians disagree on this difficult issue.”  As one who holds two a form of two kingdom theology I found myself disagreeing with certain applications of the scriptures teaching on helping the poor.  They seem to hold to more of  transformational viewpoint.  This being said most of the warnings and positive advice are applicable to all it may just differ on whether a church as a whole is doing it or individual Christians.

 

Overall I would recommend this book to all those are interested in better serving those in poverty.

 

Published: 2009, 2012 (expanded edition)

Publisher: Moody

Binding: Glue

Boards: Paperback

Notes: Endnotes

Scripture Index: no

Subject Index: no

Persons Index: no

Pages: 274

 Buy Here: $13.49

I received a copy of this book from moody publishers in exchange for a review which was not required to be positive.

Is the devil at work here in 2014? Do Christians need to be on guard against the devils schemes?  The answer to these questions is a resounding yes in the new book by Brian Borgman and Rob Ventura. In this new and highly praised book the authors approach questions of spiritual warfare as the title suggest in a biblical and balanced perspective.  The authors show the real and present danger of the Devil and his demons without sensationalizing the topic.  In fact the book constantly points us to Christ and his person and work for us, not speculating on abstract ideas about the devil.  I believe this book is a great introduction on the subject as it comes in at just 124 pages it is very accessible to a wide audience.  It is a 124 pages of reading well worth ones time.

If you are looking for a lot of answers to questions about the devil and demons and want to speculate on a wide variety of questions this is not your book.  You will find in this book though biblical principles to fighting the devil and standing against him as a Christian in your daily life.  The book is essentially an exposition of Ephesians 6:10-20.  The book works through each piece of the armor we are to wear and the sword we are to wield.  Each piece is describe and what it would of looked like on soldiers in the time period and how it is a metaphor for spiritual warfare.  The books greatest strength I believe is that it constantly points us to Christ and our union with him throughout the description of how to use the armor.  The book does contain 3 appendixes than do answer some question not addressed specifically in Ephesians 6.

The book finishes by showing how all of the armor of God is to be used through prayer.  This is a powerful chapter showing the importance of prayer in the believers life.

A quote to wet your appetite to read this book comes from page 86 “ Corporate worship is not just a time to express emotion or to practice our singing; it is a time for warfare.  When we sing God’s truth, when we sing Scripture, we are wielding the sword of the Spirit in a mighty way in worship and praise.”

I really had no issues with the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in this subject.  Also I would recommend listening to the authors interviewed on the Confessing Baptist Podcast Interview #40

Year: 2014

Publisher: Reformation Heritage Books

Pages: 124

Boards: Paperback

Binding: Glue

Scripture Index: No

Subject Index: No

Person Index: No

Footnotes or Endnotes: Footnotes

Forward: Steven J. Lawson

Endorsements By: Voddie Baucham Jr., Thomas R. Schreiner, Peter O’Brien (note that on wtsbooks.com there are more endorsements given that are not on the hardcopy of book by Carl Trueman, Stanley Gale, Bruce Ware, Bruce Ray, Joel Beeke, Paul Washer, Phil Johnson, David Murray, and Al Martin)

Buy Here: WTSbooks $ 9.75

I received a free review copy of this book from Reformation Heritage Books and was not required to give a positive review.

1689 Federalism

This video is a well made introduction to recovering the particular baptist view of covenant theology.

http://youtu.be/_lKe2VopL9k

Book Alert: The Kingdom of God: A Baptist Expression of Covenant and Biblical Theology

Pre-order Jeff Johnson’s forthcoming book on covenant theology and get 40-50% off.

Dr. Kim Riddlebarger has been doing an academy series on Two Kingdom theology at Christ Reformed church called In The Land of Nod.  In the first lecture he gives recommended reading on the subject.  I thought it would be helpful to post those books in a list with links.  You can listen to his comments on the books starting at 1:03:58 in the first lecture which is helpful because he doesn’t agree with all of these or recommend them equally.

Theonomy in Christian Ethics by Greg Bahnsen

Christ and culture revisited by D.A. Carson

Was America Founded as A Christian Nation: A Historical Introduction by John Fea

The Contested Public Square: The Crisis of Christianity and Politics by Greg Foster

The Religious Beliefs of Americas Founders by Greg Frazer

In Search of The City on A Hill by Richard Gamble

The War for Righteousness by Richard Gamble

Separation of Church and State by Philip Hamburg

The Democratization of American Christianity by Nathan Hatch

A Secular Faith by Darryl Hart

To Change The World by James Davidson Hunter (Dr. Riddlebarger says it is most important on the list)

God of Liberty: Religious History of The American Revolution by Thomas Kidd

Lectures on Calvinism by Abraham Kuyper

Christ and Culture by Richard Niebuhr

From Irenaeus to Grotius by Oliver and Joan O’Donovan

Living in God’s Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen

Natural Law and The Two Kingdoms by David VanDrunen

TRANSFORMATIONALIST SIDE

Creation Regained by Albert Wolters

The Politics of Jesus by John Yoder

“Nature can afford no balsam fit for soul cure. Healing from duty, and not from Christ is the most desperate disease. Poor, ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough (without spot) to cover the souls nakedness. Nothing can fit the soul for that use but Christ’s perfect righteousness.” Thomas Wilcox from honey out of the rock

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