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.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Being Salt and Light

Some Christians think that either you're involved in heavenly things or involved in earthly things. That is a false dichotomy, because the Bible commands us to be involved in both: "But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare" (Jeremiah 29:7).

Christians should be fully involved in the public square, and they should be involved in such a way that the surrounding world can see what the effect of a Christian worldview and lifestyle have on such public involvement. Statements such as "None of these things matter , because it's all about Jesus!" sound high-minded and pious, but it's not what the Lord commanded, and in fact goes contrary to His command for us to be salt and light to the world around us.

Two Principles in Debating

Two truths that ought to be obvious to everybody regardless of their religious or political beliefs:

  1. Sincerity does not equal truthfulness. One may sincerely hold to his beliefs, but he may be sincerely wrong about his beliefs.
  2. A sincerely wrong person is not a lying or deceptive person. Unless one has good reason to think otherwise, it is always best to assume that if one is making a claim, they really do believe the claim they're making (even if you know that claim to be false).

Saturday, August 2, 2014

On the Harmony Between Different Disciplines

The human mind has a wonderful faculty for the condensation of perfectly valid arguments, and what seems like an instinctive belief may turn out to be the result of many logical steps. Or, rather it may be that the belief in a personal God is the result of a primitive revelation, and that the theistic proofs are only the logical confirmation of what was originally arrived at by a different means. At any rate, the logical confirmation of the belief in God is a vital concern to the Christian; at this point as at many others religion and philosophy are connected in the most intimate possible way. True religion can make no peace with a false philosophy, any more than with a science that is falsely-so-called; a thing cannot possibly be true in religion and false in philosophy or in science. All methods of arriving at truth, if they be valid methods, will arrive at a harmonious result.

Machen, John Gresham. Christianity and Liberalism., 1923. p. 51.