Sunday, July 3, 2016

Lashawan Qadash?

One of the interesting things to have come out recently in the apologetics scene are a series of podcasts and debates on the Hebrew Israelite movement. If you've missed it, you may want to check it out here. Even though I encountered adherents of this movement early on in my Christian life (they have quite the presence on the internet), I never saw them as a topic of serious apologetic discussion until recently. They may not be as numerous as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, or Oneness Pentecostals, but they're getting on in numbers, especially in large urban centres such as here in Toronto. I've often seen them hanging around Dundas Square, and it is frustrating to try to dialogue with them as they tend to shut down everyone who tries to reason with them.

That said, I'd like to look at one particular claim that this group makes, and that is their claim to have the pure Hebrew language, which they distinguish from the "Yiddish" that gets passed off as Biblical Hebrew everywhere else. They call this Lashawan Qadash, which is based on the Hebrew for "holy tongue" (לשון קדש; lishōn qodesh) and is supposed to represent Hebrew the way the Hebrews (ie. their ancestors, according to their worldview) pronounced it. They seem to have a preference for the Palaeo-Hebrew script (though they occasionally use the standard block script used today as well). But this isn't the main idiosyncrasy of this form of Hebrew. Its main idiosyncrasy is its pronunciation: Proponents of Lashawan Qadash claim that the only vowel sound that exists in Hebrew is the "a" sound, with the exception of the letter 'ayin (ע), which makes the "i" sound. All other vowels were added to Hebrew later by the Masoretes (6th-10th centuries), who were Ashkenazi Jews (who are not really descended from the Hebrews, according to them).

This video basically explains how Hebrew Israelites view this language. Note that just as there are different subgroups in the Hebrew Israelite movement, there are also variations in their pronunciations. Nevertheless, some common feature are discernible.

Having done my undergraduate studies in Near and Middle Eastern studies (which includes learning not just Hebrew, but other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Arabic as well), I find these claims to be quite odd, and just a bit jarring. There are so many questionable things about this claimed "pure Hebrew" tongue. For one, they reject the classical names of each Hebrew letter ("Aleph" for א, "Bet" for ב, etc.). According to them, these names are "Yiddish" inventions. But they're not. In fact, the names of these letters pre-date Hebrew. These are the names of the letters as they were originally used in the Phoenician language. Each letter name represents an object that the letter signifies ("ox" for "Aleph," "house" for "Bet," etc.). To reject these names is to divorce each letter from the object which each character originally signified.

Also, Lashawan Qadash ignores Hebrew's relationship with other Semitic languages such as Aramaic and Arabic. If we follow their pronunciation conventions, for example, the word for  "house" (בית) would not be "bayit," as most Hebrew speakers would say it, but "bayat." But this goes against the usage of the word in every other Semitic language. The Aramaic word would also be "bayit," and the Arabic word for the same is "bayt" (بيت). In fact, one wonders what Hebrew Israelites do with the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament in Daniel and Ezra. Their pronunciation system would not work with Aramaic, which was spoken much more widely than Hebrew throughout the Near East (Unless one posits that all  of Mesopotamia, including native Aramaic speakers living in today, have it all wrong. Now that'd be one grand conspiracy theory!). We know how Aramaic is pronounced because the Greek New Testament contains Aramaic words and phrases transliterated into Greek. Here are some examples:

Greek Text
English Translation
Matthew 27:47
Ἠλὶ ἠλὶ λεμὰ σαβαχθάνι
אלי אלי למה סבקתני
Ēli, Ēli, lama sabachthani
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Mark 5:41
Ταλιθα κουμ
תלתא קומי
Talitha qūmi
Little girl, arise!
John 20:16
1 Corinthians 16:22
Μαράνα θά
מרנא תא
Marana tha
Our Lord, come!

There is no room for vocalizing these Aramaic phrases differently than how they are vocalised in the Greek New Testament. What is also clear from this is that the "e" and "u" vowels are used, which is contrary to what proponents of Lashawan Qadash say.
But perhaps it will be argued that what applies to Aramaic doesn't apply to Hebrew. The falsity of this claim is made clear once we factor in the Septuagint (LXX), a Greek Translation of the Old Testament produced by Hellenistic Jews living in Egypt in the 3rd century B.C., and is cited by the authors of the New Testament. In the LXX, there are many Hebrew words that are transliterated into Greek text. This will give us an idea of how the Jews in the 3rd century B.C. pronounced these words. Here are some representative nouns:

Hebrew Name
Transliteration from Hebrew
Greek  (LXX)
Transliteration from Greek
First Appearance
Genesis 1:26
Genesis 5:29
Genesis 12:8
Genesis 17:5
Genesis 17:19
Genesis 25:25
Genesis 25:26
Genesis 32:28
בֵּ֥ית לָֽחֶם
Bēyt Lechem
Genesis 35:19
Exodus 2:10
Joshua 1:1
Joshua 10:1
Ruth 4:17
2 Samuel 5:7
2 Kings 14:25
2 Kings 19:2

Note that some names are transliterated more precisely than others. Nevertheless, the transliterations are fairly consistent, and even the loosest Greek transliterations stay fairly close to the Hebrew originals. Now, the Hebrew Israelites are to be believed, the vowel system used for Biblical Hebrew was invented by the Masoretes and could not have existed prior to the 6th century. Yet the evidence from the LXX shows that the pronunciation system can be traced back to at least the 3rd century B.C. This refutes the idea that it is a later invention.

Finally, the question must be asked: If Lashawan Qadash represents pure Hebrew, why is there no evidence for its existence prior to the 20th century? Why is it that all throughout the world, the same Hebrew pronunciation is used by all kinds of disparate groups, many of which couldn't have been influenced by the Ashkhenazim? For example, we have the Falasha Jews from Ethiopia. In their prayer services, they use exactly the same pronunciation system that all other Jewish groups use (see this video for an example). Bear in mind that for hundreds of years, these Ethiopian Jews had no contact with the rest of the Jewish world, which rules out their use of Hebrew being influenced by European Jewry. The fact that the Hebrew that is preserved among them matches that used everywhere else is proof that this is the true Hebrew language, not Lashawan Qadash.

There are many other problems that underlie the Hebrew Israelite movement, such as their hermeneutically questionable interpretation of texts involving Israelites and Gentiles, as well as their claim that black Africans are the true Hebrews, against all genetic and geographic evidence to the contrary. Those are beyond the scope of this article, however. For information on those topics, I recommend the video playlist I linked to at the beginning of this article. Hopefully, this article sheds light on the Hebrew language's history and usage, and why the standard Hebrew pronunciation is to be preferred over the spurious innovation known as Lashawan Qadash.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

When Narratives Get in the Way of Facts

 “Never let a good tragedy go to waste.” - Rahm Emmanuel
By now, everyone has heard of the Orlando attack, where Omar Mateen murdered 49 people in a gay nightclub before he himself was killed. The aftermath of this terror attack has been something of an interesting Rorschach Test, where everybody who has some kind of strong opinion on a given social/political issue has projected their own concerns onto the incident, and are using it to call for the implementation of this or that social agenda or to demonize this or that social group. Witness the flurry of articles, social media posts and debates that focus in on (depending on one’s concerns) the state of LGBT rights in North America, the importance of gun control/gun rights in preventing further deaths, and/or the role of Islamic radicalism in terror attacks against the West.
What has been disappointing—though not the least bit surprising—about the recent events has been the willingness of many of those commenting on them to completely ignore the facts about what actually happened in order to further a specific narrative about society. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than among the various internet-based “social justice warriors” that pounce upon this tragedy. Before anyone even knew exactly why the shooter did what he did, they were already blaming the attacks on perceived bigotry and homophobia that is being spread by conservative Christians. This is exemplified by one particular Facebook post that has been making its rounds throughout social media, which states:
You weren't the gunman, but you didn't want to see gay people kissing in public. You weren't the gunman, but you don't like gay characters on TV. You weren't the gunman, but you think gay people are sinful and need saving.
You weren't the gunman, but you were upset when gay people gained the right to marry. You weren't the gunman, but you use slurs for gay people. You weren't the gunman, but you would vote against legal protections for gay people.
You weren't the gunman, but you're the culture that built him. You're the bullets in his gun.
The problem with this statement is the fact that at no point does it at all touch base with reality. There are many facts that militate against this interpretation of the event, of which I will name the two most important ones:
Fact #1: Omar Mateen was neither a Christian nor a conservative. The shooter was a Muslim man of Afghan descent. Furthermore, he was not even a particularly religious Muslim. Various investigations into his life indicate that he himself was gay, and had frequented the very nightclub he shot up in the past. But then, he made a 180 degree turn and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State just shortly before the shooting. How does one reconcile these two apparently contradictory sets of facts with one another? There are many theories that one could posit. Perhaps he didn’t really mean his last minute pledge of allegiance and did it out of spite against those who’ve rejected him. Or perhaps he was sincere, and we have a case of what some social commentators have dubbed “Sudden Jihad Sydrome.” Either way, it is not at all clear that Christian opposition of homosexuality had anything to do with his motives.
Fact #2: The response of the Christian community has been overwhelmingly one of compassion. Sure, one can always point to a Steven Anderson as an example of how some radical Christians are praising the shooter. But why point to the exceptions rather than the rule? Why not mention the fact that Chik-Fil-A opened on a Sunday for the first time in its history to make chicken sandwiches to donate to blood donors helping the victims? How about mentioning Russell Moore’s plea for mutual understanding and sharing of grief between the Christian and LGBT communities? This is the critical element that is missing in the “Social Justice” narrative: The actual words and actions of the very Christians they seek to lay the blame on for this terror attack.
It can be extremely frustrating for Christians to be blamed for what happened in the face of all the facts. But then again, we live in a society where Cultural Marxism (as opposed to Biblical Christianity) determines how to properly interpret all facts and events. As Dr. Scott Masson has pointed out in his lecture “Repressive Tolerance and Cultural Marxism,” this ideology sees Christianity as the root of all social injustice in the world, and must therefore be stigmatised and marginalized in the name of “tolerance.” Its main dogma—its theory of “privileged classes”—artificially sorts everyone into various gradations of either privilege or oppression/victimhood. Warren J. Blumenfeld (one of the promoters of this ideology in academia), has written about how various religious groups can be classified under hierarchies of privilege. Protestants are more privileged than Catholics, and both are more privileged than non-Christian groups such as Jews, Muslims, and people of no religion. Furthermore, since race also factors into this theory of privilege, predominantly white Protestant denominations are more privileged than predominantly non-white denominations.[1] And of course, in recent years, sexual orientation has figured prominently in this theory of privilege, with heterosexuals being vastly more privileged than LGBT people of all stripes.
Because all facts are filtered through this filter of “privilege,” narratives must always be structured in a way that those with the most privilege are the chief oppressors. Thus, even though both Christianity and Islam declare homosexuality to be a sin, Cultural Marxists will almost always focus on Christian homophobia to the exclusion of Muslim homophobia (the exceptions to this rule are usually liberal Muslims or ex-Muslims, who are generally more attuned to the problems occurring within Muslim societies). The aftermath of the Orlando attack is perhaps one of the most extreme examples of this cognitive dissonance to date. Here, social justice warriors operating according to the rubric of “privileged/oppressed classes” take what is, according to all facts and evidence, an act of Islamic homophobia, and attributing it to Christians!
This brings us back to one of the most important insights of the late Reformed Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til. Van Til pointed out that despite our pretensions to the contrary, none of us ever approaches facts and evidence with an unbiased mind. In other words, neutrality is a myth. All of us operate according to a worldview, which we use to arrange the evidence into one coherent narrative. The problem with this is that only one worldview can be universally true (and we who are Christians do believe that this one true universal worldview is the Biblical one), and every other worldview must of necessity ignore certain facts about reality or twist them beyond any reasonable interpretation of them. Cultural Marxism is one such worldview, and the Orlando terror attack proves that this worldview is incapable of explaining reality as it really is. Saint Paul said it best about such false worldviews when he said, “claiming to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:22, ESV).
Having said this, I would like to briefly touch upon the question of what the proper Christian response to the Orlando massacre should be. Perhaps the best response to date has been that of Michael L. Brown, entitled “A Christian Message to LGBT Americans in the Wake of the Orlando Shooting.” I encourage everyone to read this article and mirror its words to everyone they know who is LGBT or an “ally” of that movement. I will conclude with his words:
Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). He said, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). And he said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
But he also said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). And “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
It is Jesus that you need.

[1] Warren J. Blumenfield, “Christian Privilege and the Promotion of ‘Secular’ and not-so ‘Secular’ Mainline Christianity in Public Schooling and in the Larger Society," Equity and Excellence in Education 39 (3): 195–210.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Open Letter to Dr. White (Regarding Theonomy)

Dear Dr. James R. White,

Let me begin by saying that of all the great teachers and theologians in the Reformed world alive today, I owe the greatest debt to you. Most of what I learned on matters pertaining to theology and apologetics over the past six years came from listening to your debates and Dividing Line podcast, as well as reading several of your books (The Forgotten Trinity remains my all-time favourite, as it has helped me in numerous encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, Mormons and Oneness Pentecostals). I continue to hold you up to my colleagues as the best Christian apologist today against Islam.

That being said, I have over the course of my studies in ethics and social theory in the past two years gravitated towards the Theonomic position. Van Til's maxim of "Theonomy or Autonomy" is one that I take very seriously, as I find that if I were to be truly Presuppositional in my approach to law and ethics, I am forced to say that the scriptures (both Old and New Testament) are the only sure foundation that we can have in questions relating to those issues. On the specific issue of Old Testament judicial law, I find that there is immeasurable wisdom in those laws that we cannot afford to dispense with, and the Church today would be much poorer in its witness to the world if it did not draw from those resources to give coherent answers to the socio-political and economic problems plaguing the world today.

Yes, there is to some extent some cultural baggage contain in the Old Testament Law. I believe that this is the reason why the Reformed Confessions spoke of "General Equity." It is through that principle of General Equity that we are able to filter out those elements of the judicial laws that are strictly for Ancient Israel only, and extract the principles from them that are relevant to every culture and every age. I find it perplexing that you accuse the Theonomic position of Judaizing, when in fact every Theonomic author that I know of recognizes the necessity of contextualizing the principles of those laws to the social situations that we find ourselves in. My Eastern European Theonomist colleagues do not cease to be Eastern Europeans, neither do my African Theonomist colleagues give up their Africanness by adopting the position that they do. Every culture needs to be redeemed under Christ, but nobody is asserting that they have to be changed into some sort of Neo-Israel in the process. To assert otherwise is to assert a Strawman.

That being said, I must speak on the statements that you have made regarding Shari'a and its alleged similarity to Theonomy. As a student in Middle Eastern Studies, who is in the process of reading the Qur'an in the original Arabic and has written no less than two university-level papers on the subject of Islamic jurisprudence, I think that I can speak with some level of credibility on the topic of Shari'a. I can assure you that I did not learn about Shari'a from Fox News (we don't have that up here in Canada). Perhaps I am not up to your level when it comes to knowledge and acquaintance in the Islamic sources, but by God's grace I am getting there, and hope to be just as effective in that area as you are. Be that as it may, I do find the comparison between Theonomy and Shari'a to be both oversimplistic and inaccurate, as there are many points of divergence between the two:
  1. First of all, while Theonomy is comprehensive, it is not exhaustive (that is a distinction many people fail to make). Recall that there are only 613 laws in Torah, whereas Shari'a has tens of thousands of laws covering all sorts of matters that the Torah does not even begin to touch upon. This is because Biblical Law was never meant to be exhaustive. Biblical law has many areas that are "adiaphora," where we can exercise our Christian liberty, whereas Shari'a regulates every part of your life, right down to how you go to the bathroom or what positions you may have sex with your spouse. I've yet to see a Theonomic treatise on the proper biblical way to clip one's toenails!
  2. Many of the Islamic penalties are much more severe than the Biblical penalties. For example, thieves must pay back what they stole in the Torah, whereas in the Qur'an they get their hands chopped off. The number of crimes one may be put to death for is also significantly smaller in the Torah than it is in Shari'a.
  3. Islamic law barely (if at all) distinguishes between sins and crimes the way Biblical law does. For them, most if not all sins must be prevented or punished by the State somehow. Theonomists recognize the Kuyperian concept of Sphere Sovereignty, which limits the extent to which the State can punish that which is unlawful, and leaves it to the spheres of family and church to handle those laws that lack judicial penalties. You will not find any equivalent to Sphere Sovereignty in Islamic social thought, as they tend to mix and confuse the spheres together.
  4. The economic systems are polar opposites. Biblical economics is based on free enterprise, which you'll get from reading any number of Gary North's writings. Shari'a, on the other hand, is based on heavy regulation and taxation (basically Socialism). Every discussion of Shari'a-compliant economics I have ever come across talks about heavy income taxation, banning of interest, and welfare statism.
  5. The Theonomic movement is very Libertarian in its orientation. Rushdoony wrote in the Roots of Reconstruction that Theonomy is close as one can get to Radical Libertarianism. Shari'a has the opposite tendency: It is Totalitarian, and can only be truly enforced in Statist society where civil government reaches into every area of its citizens' lives.
  6. Finally, Theonomists, being orthodox Calvinists, believe that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, and that only the Holy Spirit can make the heart desire obedience to God's Law. We do not believe in "salvation by law" as a certain Islamic apologist mischaracterizes us as believing. The idea that a perfect law can behavioristically change hearts and minds may be an Islamic notion, but it is not a Christian one, and we repudiate it wholeheartedly.
These are just a few of the differences between the two systems that come readily to mind. Here is another article which explains the differences between the two. Suffice to say, I find the attempt at comparing the two to totally inaccurate,  and can only be sustained if one is not well-acquainted with both Biblical Law and Shari'a.

With that out of the way, I must speak to one other matter that you raised up in your recent Dividing Line, and that is the behaviour of most of those within the Theonomic camp. I do find it funny that the same accusation is being hurled at Theonomic Calvinists by non-Theonomic Calvinists that Arminians routinely hurl against Calvinists of all stripes. Be that as it may, I agree with almost everything you said in your last DL. It is unfortunate that you've had some nasty scrapes with some of the Theonomic stalwarts, given that your high view of the Law makes you an honourary Theonomist in my book (then again, infights in the Theonomic camp are not unheard of!). I have spoken to various young Theonomists that I know (including a certain individual you know who goes to the same church as you), and many of us agree that there is indeed an attitude problem among many Theonomists. This is not something new, as Bahnsen addressed the exact same problem back in the 90s. I'm not entirely sure why a lot of those "Angry Calvinists" find themselves in the Theonomic camp. I do hope and pray that those of us within the Theonomic camp will heed the admonition to "speak the truth in love," and shed this unfortunate tendency (it has become something of a PR problem for us among other Reformed folk). But I do thank you for raising the issue. I also thank you for recognizing that we are all not like that.

That concludes my Apology (a fititng double-entendre) for the Theonomic movement. May God bless you in your ministry work, and may you continue to equip the saints in dealing with the pressing issues that we face today.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

John R.W. Stott on Being Salt and Light

The world is evidently a dark place, with little or no light of its own, since an external source of light is needed to illumine it. True, it is "always talking about its enlightenment," but much of its boasted light is in reality darkness. The world also manifests a constantly tendency to deteriorate. The notion is not that the world is tasteless and that Christians can make it less insipid ("The thought of making the world palatable to God is quite impossible"), but that it is putrefying. It cannot stop itself from going bad. Only salt introduced from outside can do this. The church, on the other hand, is set in the world with a double role, as salt to arrest--or at least to hinder--the process of social decay, and as light to dispel the darkness.
What message do we have, then, for such people who feel themselves strangled by 'the system', crushed by the machine of modern technocracy, overwhelmed by political, social and economic forces which control them and over which they have no control? They feel themselves victims of a situation they are powerless to change. What can they do? It is in the soil of this frustration that revolutionaries are being bred, dedicated to the violent overthrow of the system. It is from the very same soil that revolutionaries of Jesus can arise, equally dedicated activists--even more so--but committed rather to spread his revolution of love, joy and peace. And this peaceful revolution is more radical than any programme of violence, both because its standards are incorruptible and because it changes people as well as structures. Have we lost our confidence? Then listen to Luther: "With his single word I can be more defiant and more boastful than they with all their power, swords and guns."
John R.W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount (InterVarsity Press, 1978), pgs. 58-59, 64.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

John Murray on the Cultural Mandate

There is an indication in Genesis 1 and 2 of the variety which would have characterized his labours in a state of confirmed integrity. The other mandates—the replenishing of the earth and subduing it—involved labour also. Even in the genial conditions which would have obtained in an uncursed earth it is not difficult to imagine the labour entailed in geographical expansion and the necessity of making adequate provision for sustenance and comfort in this process of expansion. But more significant in respect of labour is the mandate to subdue the earth. This means nothing if it does not mean the harnessing and utilizing of the earth’s resources and forces. We are not to suppose that the earth is represented as offering resistance to man’s dominion and that the subduing was to be that of conquering alien and recalcitrant powers. But the subduing of the earth must imply the expenditure of thought and skill and energy in bringing the earth and its resources under such control that they would be channeled to the promotion of certain ends which they were suited and designed to fulfil but which would not be fulfilled part from the exercise of man’s design and labour. In the sense in which Jesus spoke of the Sabbath as made for man and not man for the Sabbath, so we may not say that the earth and its resources were made for man and not man for them; he was to exercise dominion over them, they were not to rule over him The earth and its resources were to be brought into the service of his well-being, enjoyment and pleasure.
John Murray, Principles of Conduct: Aspects of Biblical Ethics (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1957), 36-37.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Book Recommendation: “Redemption Accomplished and Applied” by John Murray

NOTE: For a few years now, I have been writing book recommendations for my church's monthly newsletter. I have decided that I would begin reposting some of them here on my blog. Note that these are not full-length reviews, but short blurbs on what I found helpful about the books and why I recommend others to read them. I hope this encourages you to check out the same books.

From the back of the book:
The atonement lies at the very center of the Christian faith. The free and sovereign love of God is the source of the accomplishment of redemption, as the Bible’s most familiar text (John 3:16) makes clear. 
For thoughtful Christians since the time of the Apostle Paul, this text has started, not ended, the discussion of redemption. Yet few recent interpreters have explored in depth the biblical passages dealing with the atonement as penetratingly or precisely as John Murray, who, until his death in 1975, was regarded by many as the foremost conservative theologian in the English-speaking world. 
In this enduring study of the atonement, Murray systematically explains the two sides of redemption: its accomplishment by Christ and its application to the life of the redeemed. In Part 1 Murray considers the necessity, nature, perfection, and extent of the atonement. In Part 2 Murray offers careful expositions of the scriptural teaching about calling, regeneration, faith and repentance, justification, adoption, sanctification perseverance, union with Christ and glorification.
I read this book while taking Systematic Theology classes under Prof. Kirk Wellum in Toronto Baptist Seminary, and this was my favourite among all my seminary textbooks. And it’s not because of its short length! Although small and only 192 pages long, it is densely packed with great information on the doctrine of salvation. This work is a classic treatment of the salvific work of God (especially as it relates to Jesus’ work on the cross) from a Reformed perspective. It is concise enough that readers are not drowned in lengthy theological arguments, yet comprehensive enough that the breadth of the biblical teaching on redemption is adequately covered. Murray’s contributions to the theology of redemption are helpful both to those who are still young in the faith and need to be grounded in the scriptural understanding of salvation, as well as more experienced Christians who wish to further their understanding of how God has accomplished His salvific work and has applied it to believers.

In keeping with the title, Murray has divided the book into two sections: Redemption Accomplished (which is 5 chapters long) and Redemption Applied (which is 10 chapters long). As noted in the preface, the second section of this book was originally a set of twenty two articles that the author wrote for The Presbyterian Guardian from 1952 to 1954.  It was later collected together and added to the first section to produce the current edition of the book, which has remained in more or less the same form since it first came out back in 1955.

For those looking for a biblical and logical exposition of Reformed theology that explains the key concepts underlying our belief concerning the doctrine of salvation, this is the best one-volume treatment of the issues. It is both highly informative and edifying, and belongs in every believer’s library.