#INCDebate – θεὸς (Theos)

As I have previously posted about the debate between Dr. White and Bro. Joe Ventilacion of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC), I would like to continue with a brief post about “θεὸς” – the Greek word we pronounce Theos.

It is a major assertion that since John 1:1 refers to “God” as “θεόν” (Theon) and Jesus as “θεὸς” (Theos) that this must mean that Jesus is not God. Since he’s not Theon and God is, then that settles the debate, right?

Not so fast. Let’s look at some other verses from John’s Gospel that use Theos to refer to God in general.

Remember, the INC assertion is that Jesus is Theos and that Theos is DIFFERENT from God the Father.

If that is true, please tell me how you can reconcile these verses.

John 3:2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from THEOS as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

John 3:16-17 For THEOS so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For THEOS did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.

John 3:34 For He whom THEOS has sent speaks the words of θεοῦ (THEOU – another word for God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.

John 4:24 THEOS is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

John 6:27 Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, THEOS, has set His seal.

It is simply impossible to reconcile this. Rather, it is clear that Scripture uses many words (Theos, Theon, Theou, etc…) to refer to God. This includes verses that refer to Jesus as God (using the same word for God in John 1:1).

There are plenty more examples as well here: http://biblehub.com/greek/theos_2316.htm

#INCDebate – Brief Analysis of Joe Ventilacion’s Usage of Philippians 2

I posted last time on this debate and a false assertion that Bro. Joe Ventilacion made about Dr. White. Today I would like to spend some time dealing with the cross-examination time when Dr. White was questioning Bro. Joe about Philippians 2.

I believe that there were only a couple of times that Bro. Joe cited this section of Philippians 2. He read verse 9 from the NKJV at 1:59:51 into it. He is asking Dr. White about what exaltation means. You can see that section here.

Then about 13 minutes later Bro. Joe cited Philippians 2:9-11 (again, in the NKJV) at 2:13:11 into debate regarding why we are supposed to worship Jesus. Then he does go back to read verse 8. That section is here.

Right after this, we get to Dr. White’s cross-examination of Bro. Joe at 2:22:17. He is asking Bro. Joe about what humility means. It starts here:

Below is my transcript of this section. If you think I missed something or have something wrong, please let me know. I think I got it all.

Dr. White “So Humility is just obedience or does verse 4 sort of help explain this?”

Bro. Joe “That is Philippians 2:5. So to answer what kind of humility, he proves his humility by verse 8 he was humble and obedient to God until his death.”

Dr. White “So verses 6&7 are not a part of his being humble?”

Bro. Joe “It is a part of Philippians Chapter 2. But ask me a question about Philippians 2:7 down to 8.”

Dr. White “No, I actually read it in context so you have to go with verse 6 first.”

Bro. Joe “OK. OK”

Dr. White “When it says ‘Who existing in the form of God’ can you explain how Jesus was existing in the form of God?”

Bro. Joe “OK. Give me the Christology in the Making ….”

Dr. White “It’s on the screen.” (in Greek, by the way)

Bro. Joe “No I’m asking them for my book. Because I have to answer you by the book. When I say when Christ is in the form of God (he cites James DG Dunn’s book “Christology in the Making”). The word ‘morphe’ or ‘form’ in the Greek is a near synonym to the work ‘eikon’ or ‘image’ so Christ is the image or the form of God. The image of the invisible God Hebrews Chapter 1.’

Dr. White “Can you tell us what huparchon means? Who existing in the form of God.”

Bro. Joe “Huparchon?”

Dr. White “Yeah”

Bro. Joe “Ok”

Dr. White “When?”

Bro. Joe “Ohhh OK. You said there was a pre-incarnation there in Philippians 2:6. I don’t see something that is talking about pre-incarnation in Philippians 2:6. It is simply saying that Christ being in the form of God or the image of God did not try to be equal with God. That’s my rendition of Philippians 2:6”

Dr. White “OK, so what you’re saying is if a creature does not try to blasphemously try to be equal with God that’s humility?”

Bro. Joe “Of course he did not try to become equal with God because that is how he proved that he is different from God. He is to prove to God that he is humble by obeying God. That is humility.”

Dr. White “So it is humility for me not to claim to be God tonight?”

Bro. Joe “No. The point here is this. Never did he claim to be God. He did not say, he did not even say, ‘I am God’.”

Dr. White “Sir, that’s not the question. This is supposed to be an illustration of humility. Humility is having certain rights and laying them aside to serve others. You’re saying he didn’t have a right and did not grasp that.”

Bro. Joe “I did not say that. I’m saying his humility is proven through his obedience to God. That even though he is in the form of God, alright, he did not hold onto that quality of being in the form of God but instead preferred, alright…”

Dr. White “How did he make himself of no reputation in verse 7?”

Bro. Joe “Well it’s so easy. Christ had to remember was given that tremendous power and authority by God. He was given that power. He said all things were given to me by my father. (Matthew 11:27) If he were to hold onto that authority or power, Dr. White, you could not, you could NOT crucify him on the cross.”

Dr. White “When did he take the form of a servant?”

Bro. Joe “Galatians 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law”

Dr. White “But it says HE made himself does that mean he pre-existed his birth.”

Bro. Joe “I did not say… Did I say he pre-existed?”

Dr. White “Paul did.”

Bro. Joe “That. Did you read the word pre-existed there? Oh there it is only your opinion Mr. White.”

Dr. White “Sir, what is ‘auton’?”

Bro. Joe “Explain”

Dr. White “He emptied himself. It’s a reflective pronoun isn’t it? How did Jesus do that if he didn’t exist?”

Bro. Joe “He has to empty himself with that being in the form of God that he has the power and authority.”

Dr. White “But you just associated it with his coming in the flesh, sir. That means the incarnation. Jesus pre-existed”

Bro. Joe “He has to empty himself of the power that he had to fulfill his mission because if he will not empty himself of the power that was given to him by God you could not crucify him on the cross. You could not.”

Then Dr. White goes to 2 Peter chapter 1, but more on that in a later post.

As you can see, Dr. White does an excellent job at trying to stay on the specific topic of humility since it is what Bro. Joe had just finished talking about. There is much detail that we should not miss in this statement by Dr. White:

“Humility is having certain rights and laying them aside to serve others. You’re saying he didn’t have a right and did not grasp that.”

I do not believe that Bro. Joe realizes the implication of what true humility is and what it means in this context.

Let’s say that I am a fantastic baseball pitcher. I have a blazing fastball, a sinker that drops sharply, and a changeup that makes the batter scratch his head. If I choose to go to do a baseball camp that is for children and I go to their level, then this is humility. I could strike out every single batter at the camp because I am such a great pitcher. They would be devastated – literally and metaphorically. But if I pitch it at 45mph so that they could actually hit it. That is humility.

On the other hand, let’s say that I’m me. I’ve never pitched baseball in a game before although I have played baseball before. It would not be a sign of my humility if I pitch 45mph to kids. You see, it would not be humility because I do not have the certain skills of a fantastic pitcher so that I could set aside those skills to pitch to children. I’m just a guy who is being nice by helping out kids at a camp.

This is what Bro. Joe does not understand. Jesus Christ was not just some nice guy who went to the cross for us and humbled himself by not using his powers which were given to him by the Father (apparently after he was already on earth). Jesus Christ is the second person of the Trinity. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He compacted to come “in the fullness of time” (as Bro. Joe cited above) so that he could humble himself and be obedient even to death on the cross.

Furthermore, note from the beginning of the transcript above that Bro. Joe did not want to talk about the section prior to this. He was not concerned with what verses 5 and 6 said but wrote them off. “It is a part of Philippians Chapter 2. But ask me a question about Philippians 2:7 down to 8.” In other words, let’s not talk about the two verses before this. Though I am glad that Dr. White was able to get him to join in on the beginnings of a discussion of verse 6.

Here are Philippians 2:5-6 in the NKJV: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God

“Did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.”

Let that sink in for a moment. For Christ, it was not robbery (i.e. something that would be morally wrong) for him to be equal with God. This is the translation that Bro. Joe used for verses 7-11, so it should be good here, right? Bro. Joe also used the New Living Translation at other times. But why not in this instance? It is even more clear – “Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to.”

The Iglesia Ni Cristo, if Bro. Joe is any indication, are very picky when it comes to which Bible translation they will use. It’s almost as if certain verses in a paragraph are inspired in one version and the other verses are inspired in another version. But this is not what I wished to talk about.

It is clear from the evidence of Philippians 2 that Christ, who was “equal with God”, humbled himself by becoming a man and going to the cross to die for our sins and that every knee will bow before him someday and every tongue will confess that He is God.

In your Bible, you will probably see that there is a reference from “every knee will bow” that directs us to Isaiah 45:22-24. Either we must stand with Scripture and say that the God to whom we bow and confess in Isaiah 45 is the Triune God or we must say that Jesus has usurped the authority, majesty, and worth of the God we worship in Isaiah 45.

Isaiah 45:22 “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other.
23 “I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.
24 “They will say of Me, ‘Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.’
Men will come to Him,
And all who were angry at Him will be put to shame.”

This obedience to death on the cross is not just something that ended up transpiring when Jesus was on earth when he decided not to use his powers but to endure the cross.

This was the ultimate redemptive plan from before the foundation of the earth to save God’s people from their sins.

Did James White “hide” something in “The Forgotten Trinity”? A quick response to Joe Ventilacion of Iglesia Ni Cristo

In the debate last week between Dr. James White and Bro. Joe Ventilacion of the INC (Iglesia Ni Cristo), towards the end Bro. Joe made an assertion that Dr. White was trying to hide something in his book “The Forgotten Trinity”. Here is the assertion by Bro. Joe at around this point in the debate:

You know why I asked Dr. White about ego eimi? Because what he was trying to show when he said you have to believe that Christ is the I AM. Well, if that’s the case then you have also to believe in the blind man. The former blind man in the Greek New Testament says ego eimi says ego eimi, or I AM. You know what he says “Oh but it’s in a different context. In a different context.” But they use the same words. Why did you not point it out in your book? OK. Why did you hide that it says the former blind man says ego eimi? Oh so he must be that God too who spoke in Exodus 3:14.

I thought that this may not have been right, so I looked at the Kindle Edition of Dr. White’s book and found that on page 208 in the first footnote of Chapter 6 (which is titled “I Am He” and is specifically about the usage of “ego eimi”) that Dr. White did, indeed, point out that it was used in John 9:9 and even discussed the context of the verse. Here is the footnote:

ego eimi

I just wanted to take a moment in this post to point out that Bro. Joe was wrong in his assertion that Dr. White was somehow being disingenuous in his discussion of ego eimi and was trying to keep people from knowing that it was used a few other times. I hope to address some further discussion from this debate at a later time.

Using Augustine in Opposition to Perseverance of The Saints

On January 18, 2017 Dr. James White (Reformed Baptist) and Trent Horn (Roman Catholic) debated the topic of whether a believer can lose his salvation. The debate can be found on YouTube here.

I hope to post at least one other post about Mr. Horn’s usage of Martin Luther, but I would like to devote a few words here to his initial usage of Augustine. This came rather quickly at only 3:38 seconds into his opening remarks. You can view it at this direct link to the timestamp of 23:38. I have listened to the debate once through in its entirety and will be going through it again.

In this post, I would like to make the case that Mr. Horn took a single sentence of Augustine out of the context of the specific Treatise that Augustine wrote late in his life about rebuking those who we would see in the visible church. Augustine, in that same Treatise, would proceed to demonstrate that a person who never returned to the fold in the course of his lifetime was never one of the elect to begin with and was never actually called by God.

This citation is from Chapter 9 of Augustine’s Treatise on Rebuke and Grace, which may be found here. It consists of only 49 “chapters” (each of which is only a paragraph or two). Here is the slide that Mr. Horn used in his presentation:

That pretty much puts the nail in the coffin, right? Augustine clearly said that a “regenerate and justified” person who falls “into an evil life…has lost the grace of God, that he had received.” We who would consider ourselves to hold to the doctrine that a true believer cannot lose his salvation should now have our pens silenced. Would that this were as open as shut as Mr. Horn would like for it to be in his opening remarks. But, as we will see, this is not the case.

Certainly the “easy” way out would be for me to just use the broad context of much of early Christianity’s doctrine of baptism being the “laver of regeneration” (this is even how Augustine refers to it in this very document from which Mr. Horn cites this lone sentence) that washes the person clean of original sin. This gives the grace of God to such a person, according to Catholic theology. Upon falling into sin, this would mean that “he has lost the grace of God” received at his baptism.

But such a broad context would take all of the fun out of reading more of Augustine. I have skimmed much of his Treatise and have fully read up through around Chapter 23. It quickly becomes obvious that Augustine either (a) was slightly imprecise in his statement in Chapter 9, or (b) had something else in mind altogether which is framed in a well thought-out treatise to a friend. After seeing that Augustine did not mean what Mr. Horn wished him to mean, I decided to formulate some of Augustine’s other statements from that treatise into a blog post. In this document that Mr. Horn chose to use for his primary refutation of Reformed Christians for citing Augustine so frequently, it turns out that we can see why Augustine is considered a stalwart forerunner to Reformation thinking.

Before I do that, allow me to make the following initial observation.

Dr. White’s opening statement and assertion was that “God will not fail to save each and every one of His elect people. None shall be lost.” In Mr. Horn’s opening statement, he stated “I challenge my opponent to present a prominent Christian writer who believed the doctrine he’s defending before John Calvin.”

In Chapter 14 of this specific treatise of Augustine which Mr. Horn used, we read the following: “Those, then, are elected, as has often been said, who are called according to the purpose, who also are predestinated and foreknown. If any one of these perishes, God is mistaken; but none of them perishes, because God is not mistaken. If any one of these perish, God is overcome by human sin; but none of them perishes, because God is overcome by nothing.

Now I will present some further citations from this Treatise. In order to keep this more succinct I will not be quoting full paragraphs but only relevant sentences. Please feel free to interact with anything that Augustine said which you believe may dispute what I’m stating. Of course, all bold is added by me.

Here is the larger context of the quote from Chapter 9 that Mr. Horn used. As you can see, Augustine first places a condition on the person receiving the rebuke that if he “is a child of promise” that God will work that rebuke to fruition as it “depends only upon God.”:

Let, then, the damnable source be rebuked, that from the mortification of rebuke may spring the will of regeneration,–if, indeed, he who is rebuked is a child of promise,–in order that, by the noise of the rebuke sounding and lashing from without, God may by His hidden inspiration work in him from within to will also. If, however, being already regenerate and justified, he relapses of his own will into an evil life, assuredly he cannot say, “I have not received,” because of his own free choice to evil he has lost the grace of God, that he had received. And if, stung with compunction by rebuke, he wholesomely bewails, and returns to similar good works, or even better, certainly here most manifestly appears the advantage of rebuke. But yet for rebuke by the agency of man to avail, whether it be of love or not, depends only upon God.

In Chapter 10, Augustine would assert (as he does continually), that perseverance is only from God and is not from anything in man.

To this, indeed, we are not able to deny, that perseverance in good, progressing even to the end, is also a great gift of God; and that it exists not save it come from Him of whom it is written, “Every best gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”

And, regarding Acts 13:48, “Who could be ordained to eternal life save by the gift of perseverance?” Which was a gift given them at their joyful reception of the Gospel.

In Chapter 14, Augustine breaks off into a discussion of the “golden chain of redemption”. Augustine sees that it would be tantamount to calling God a liar due to His being mistaken that one who was called could actually perish. “God is overcome by nothing.”

Of these no one perishes, because all are elected. And they are elected because they were called according to the purpose–the purpose, however, not their own, but God’s

For whoever are elected are without doubt also called; but not whosoever are called are as a consequence elected. Those, then, are elected, as has often been said, who are called according to the purpose, who also are predestinated and foreknown. If any one of these perishes, God is mistaken; but none of them perishes, because God is not mistaken. If any one of these perish, God is overcome by human sin; but none of them perishes, because God is overcome by nothing.

Since Mr. Horn would later bring up the fact that Judas was one of “the chosen”, I will cite Augustine’s brief statement on the way in which Judas was chosen being different from the purpose for which the elect are chosen.

Moreover, they are elected to reign with Christ, not as Judas was elected, to a work for which he was fitted. Because he was chosen by Him who well knew how to make use even of wicked men, so that even by his damnable deed that venerable work, for the sake of which He Himself had come, might be accomplished.

Lest we think that the gift of perseverance (as both Augustine and Horn refer to it) is something that is not eternal and by abandonment could possibly separate one from Christ, we read this in Chapter 15:

And of how stedfast a perseverance even to the end they have received the gift, let them follow on to say: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?…”

In Chapter 23, we read the following, just to reiterate the above:

From Him, therefore, is given also perseverance in good even to the end; for it is not given save (except) to those who shall not perish, since they who do not persevere shall perish.

Up to this point, we might be able to say that Augustine really has not dealt with the Biblical support of the possibility that some can fall away and the admonitions in Scripture that we should remain faithful, forgive others, continue in our doing good, etc… However, in Chapter 16 Augustine does tackle such a scenario and instead of Augustine stating that “these people were truly Christians and they have abandoned the faith – take care lest you do likewise”, he doubles down on the classical Reformed doctrine of the Perseverance of the Saints as expounded by Dr. White in the debate. Let us end the discussion of Augustine’s treatise by looking further into his statements there. I will cite that chapter in full.

Such as these were they who were signified to Timothy, where, when it had been said that Hymenæus and Philetus had subverted the faith of some, it is presently added, “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord has known them that are His.” The faith of these, which worketh by love, either actually does not fail at all, or, if there are any whose faith fails, it is restored before their life is ended, and the iniquity which had intervened is done away, and perseverance even to the end is allotted to them. But they who are not to persevere, and who shall so fall away from Christian faith and conduct that the end of this life shall find them in that case, beyond all doubt are not to be reckoned in the number of these, even in that season wherein they are living well and piously. For they are not made to differ from that mass of perdition by the foreknowledge and predestination of God, and therefore are not called according to God’s purpose, and thus are not elected; but are called among those of whom it was said, “Many are called,” not among those of whom it was said, “But few are elected.” And yet who can deny that they are elect, since they believe and are baptized, and live according to God? Manifestly, they are called elect by those who are ignorant of what they shall be, but not by Him who knew that they would not have the perseverance which leads the elect forward into the blessed life, and knows that they so stand, as that He has foreknown that they will fall.

Paul stated that Hymenaeus and Philetus’ words were spreading like gangrene and that they have gone astray from the truth in misleading people about the resurrection. Augustine lets us know that at the time of Paul’s writing to Timothy that we don’t know whether their faith did fail or if it was eventually restored. But Augustine makes it clear that if they do not persevere that they can’t be actually reckoned in the number of the called – much less of the elect. They are who we would refer to as “many are called but few are chosen.” Furthermore, those who call them of the elect truly do not know what they shall be – God knows whether He has given them the perseverance in which they walk.

I hope that it has been clear in this brief discussion of only about half of this treatise by Augustine that it should not have been used with the force and importance that Mr. Horn felt it needed. That being said, I do not believe that one could produce a much better rebuttal against using this quote from Augustine better than Augustine did in the same document. The citations of Augustine by various Reformers appears to be quite justified. Context matters, and late in his life Augustine wrote this treatise which gives an excellent presentation of the truths upon which the Reformers would later expound.

Books I Read In 2016

Here’s my annual book reading report… 🙂

For 2016, I read 66 books accounting and over 18,600 pages! I read 58 books in 2015, so I thought that I would try reading a few more this year. I believe that I will be scaling back some in 2017 as far as the number of books as I will be planning to read more theology. I’ll probably still be reading around 35 books, though. Here is my 2016 infographic from Goodreads.

First of all, slowly but surely I was able to read through The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien with my kids. We’ll hopefully finish the series next year! In addition to this, I read 6 other Tolkien books. I re-read The Hobbit to close out the year and enjoyed it thoroughly. Again. And also in December I read The Silmarillion – a nice 1977 First American Edition that I picked up earlier in the year. I also started reading through The History of Middle Earth starting with The Book of Lost Tales Part One and The Book of Lost Tales Part Two. These provide background and history to what would become The Silmarillion. It’s quite fun to read how these stories came about over the course of time!

Also, I read through The Bible again this year!

Below, I’ll break down my reading into genres. I’ve found that I find myself reading some of the same series over and over again. I’ll probably be making it an annual summer reading to go through Harry Potter, for example.

Fiction:

Again, I read Harry Potter over the course of a couple of months this summer. Better yet, I introduced my daughter to the series – she loves it!! Something that was special for her reading it the first time was that just a week after she finished Deathly Hallows, The Cursed Child was released! We truly enjoyed that one, too! We also read the Hogwarts Classics – Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, and The Tales of Beedle the Bard. These were fun and quite informative. But wait! There’s more! Rowling and Pottermore also released 3 short volumes under the Pottermore Presents series. They are Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous HobbiesShort Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists, and Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide. These were really fun to read and get some more background and biographical information on many of the characters. Those are must-reads for the Potter fanatics. I also listened to 4 of the Pottermore audiobooks from the series. Our local library’s app allows you to check out and listen to audiobooks. So, 18 of the books I read this year were Harry Potter-related. Very fun!!

I also re-read Lewis’s Narnia series of 7 books. This year I read them in publication order. Oh, and I read through Lewis’s Space Trilogy again as well. I also read Lewis’s The World’s Last Night: And Other Essays as I’m trying to make my way through Lewis’s writings.

I picked up another of Pyle’s illustrated books on the Arthurian legends, The Story of King Arthur and His Knights (first in the quartet). Now, I have to get the other two books in the set (the middle two, actually). These are fun reads. I also read two of the four George MacDonald volumes of fantasy stories: The Light Princess and Other Stories and The Wise Woman and Other Fantasy Stories. I did rather enjoy the first volume more, and I’m looking forward to finishing the other volumes.

I did finish in January A Series of Unfortunate Events which I started last December. There are 13 of these books and I finished the last 4 plus the autobiography that’s part of the series.

Finally, I continued reading some of Madeline L’Engle’s books. I read 4 more in The Austin Family Series. There are 9 books in this series and I’ve read 5 so far. I really should read the rest of these, and depending on how my reading through some weighty theology books goes this year, I may take a break and get back to these. Our family does like L’Engle’s works.

Biography/Historical Non-Fiction:

I was very excited when the 8 Volume biography of Winston Churchill was released to be free on Kindle a couple of years ago (for a brief time). This is written by Randolph Churchill (Winston’s son) and Martin Gilbert. This year, I read the second volume covering the years 1901-1914. These are truly fascinating works covering so much of that time’s history. The 8 volumes account for over 8,500 pages, so it is quite thorough! The second volume ends with the following statement on the brink of World War I.

If his life had ended in 1914 in his fortieth year we can be sure that he would not have been denied a page in history and that his epitaph would have been

When War Came
The Fleet was Ready

Some other biographical works that I read were: The Forgotten Spurgeon by Iain Murray, Augustine on the Christian Life by Gerald Bray, and Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Truman. These are all well-done for their purposes and I would recommend them. Reading on Augustine has now put me on an Augustine kick. I’ve picked up several more of his books and plan on reading him a lot in 2017.

Theology:

I read one book by James White this year: The Fatal Flaw. I can’t recommend his writings enough. They are engaging, well-written, and charitable when dealing with disagreements. I have a couple lined up for 2017.

The F.F. Bruce work that I read this year was his New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes.

I also finished reading (and tweeting through for LutherDaily) the books Concerning Christian Liberty, A Treatise on Good Works, and Small Catechism by Martin Luther. I understand that Eric Metaxas has a Luther biography that may be released in 2017!

I read a couple of the short books in RC Sproul’s Crucial Questions series. You can find all of these for free on Amazon, by the way. I also read a couple of other smaller volumes including John Piper’s Five Points and John Calvin’s Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life – this short work is really good!

And in continuing to settle in on my eschatological beliefs, I read through The Bible and The Future by Anthony Hoekema. This was certainly a good read and is a standard in the field of Amillennialism. Though I did enjoy Riddlebarger’s A Case for Amillennialism more that I read last year. Hoekema’s book has a fair amount of background information and was rather slow in “getting to the point” which I was hoping for. But for what he set out to do with his book, it is quite excellent. I do plan on reading through Dennis Johnson’s The Triumph of The Lamb this year. It’s a commentary on Revelation.

There was also one other theology book that was fairly important for me to read this year. It is in an area where I need to continue working through my beliefs.

That book is The Baptism of Disciples Alone: A Covenantal Argument for Credobaptism Versus Paedobaptism by Fred Malone. I cannot recommend this book more. Here was my review on Goodreads:

Having always been a Baptist, the baptism of disciples alone (or believer’s baptism or credobaptism) is something I have mostly taken for granted. From some more recent interactions with some Presbyterian friends, I thought that I would take a look at this book. Malone was, for a good many years, a convinced paedobaptist Presbyterian minister (he even footnoted once that he interned in my hometown in the early 1970’s!). At one point in the late 1970’s Malone wrote an essay about his change in convictions with regards to the scriptural passages. This is available online (search for Malone String of Pearls) and is the basis of what later would become this volume.

I appreciate how Malone starts out by outlining John Murray’s defense of paedobaptism and then later interacts with it. For me, this book was quite helpful in systematically working through credobaptism from a reformed, covenantal perspective. Malone was gracious to our paedobaptist brethren which is quite refreshing. Much of Malone’s argument is Regulative Principle-related as well as being hinged on the difference in the WCF and LBCF 1689 statements on whether the WCF principle of doctrine being understood from “good and necessary consequences” versus the more limited view of The 1689 change to the wording of the doctrine being “necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture”. This is a key distinctive that I had already formulated in my own theology. Malone then goes on to interact with the various scriptural passages related to this doctrine. I highly recommend this book as a great starting point.

Now, my parting words with Augustine in mind for you are:

Tolle Lege!