Check Out


6 Theses on Online Writing and Civility | Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy
The challenging subject of online civility.

Songs of Exile | Alexi Sargeant, First Things
More comment on the research into the imbalance in modern Christian songs.

13 Reasons We Need Church History | Matthew J. Hall, TGC
“The church of Jesus Christ remains, as always, a people called to faithfulness in this age as they await Christ’s return and the consummation of his rule in the age to come. Church history is part of that labor of both remembering and anticipating—of living between the times. We tell the truth about the past, give thanks for God’s grace, and repent of sin and failure. But we do it all through the eyes of faith and gospel hope.”

Taking Back Christianese #1: “The Christian Life is All about Being Transparent and Vulnerable” | Michael J. Kruger, Canon Fodder
“Our purpose in this post is simply to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of this phrase.  We will do this by as king three questions:  (1) Why do people use this phrase?  (2) What is correct or helpful about this phrase?  and (3) What is problematic about this phrase?”

Four Ways for Fathers to Engage at Home | Jeremy Adelman, Desiring God
“The impact that engaged fathers have on significantly reducing at-risk-behavior in their children has been well documented. Additionally, fathers who are physically and emotionally engaged lead to increased cognitive development, emotional health, and positive peer-relationships in their children’s lives. This pattern points to God’s design for families to function with men as active participants, not passive observers.”

The Real John Knox | Thomas Kidd, Reformation21

New Book

A Heart Set Free: A Journey to Hope through the Psalms of Lament by Christina Fox

Kindle Deals

The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins ($2.99)

The Last Christian on Earth: Uncover the Enemy’s Plot to Undermine the Church by Os Guinness ($1.99)

What Every Christian Needs to Know About the Qur’an by James R. White ($1.99)

For the YA readers in your house:

On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree. (The Wingfeather Saga Book 1) by Andrew Peterson

The Reasonableness of God

While researching Matthew Henry over the past six months or so, I’ve discovered that his favorite Old Testament text was Isaiah 1:18: “Come now, and let us reason together,” says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

It’s especially the first part of the verse, “Come now, and let us reason together,” that occurs again and again throughout his commentary and also repeatedly in his forty-four other publications. Writing as the age of reason took old in Western Europe he was at pains to emphasize the reasonableness of God and of Christianity. In 1696 he began a series of sermons on the reasonableness of Christianity, beginning and ending the series with sermons on Isaiah 1:18.

In his commentary on the Isaiah 1:18 passage, Henry shows God’s reasonableness towards His people Israel in a number of ways. He says, here is “a demonstration, at the bar of right reason, of the equity of God’s proceedings with them,” a demonstration that should encourage us also today.

1. God did not simply reject them as hopeless because of their sinful record.

Though God had rejected their services as insufficient to atone for their sins while they persisted in them, yet he does not reject them as in a hopeless condition.

2. God came down to their level to reason with them.

The God of heaven condescends to reason the case with those that contradict him and find fault with his proceedings.

3. God requested evidence of sincere repentance and reformation before he discussed matters further with them.

“While your hands are full of blood I will have nothing to do with you, though you bring me a multitude of sacrifices; but if you wash, and make yourselves clean, you are welcome to draw nigh to me; come now, and let us talk the matter over.”

4. God did not merely criticize them but outlined a way of reconciliation.

Let them not say that God picked quarrels with them; no, he proposes a method of reconciliation.

 5. God insisted that no amount of service to God can cover up for unjust dealings with men.

As justice and charity will never atone for atheism and profaneness, so prayers and sacrifices will never atone for fraud and oppression; for righteousness towards men is as much a branch of pure religion as religion towards God is a branch of universal righteousness.

6. Despite their previous rebellion, they can be restored to God’s favor.

They could not in reason expect any more than, if they repented and reformed, they should be restored to God’s favor, notwithstanding their former provocations.

7. God required so little of them — just that they express willingness and desire to obey.

He does not say, “If you be perfectly obedient,” but, “If you be willingly so;” for, if there be a willing mind, it is accepted. 

8.  How much is promised in return — the pardon of all sins and the enjoyment of all the happiness they could want. 

That is very great which is promised hereupon. [1.] That all their sins should be pardoned to them…[2.] That they should have all the happiness and comfort they could desire.

9. If they refused such an offer and continued in their disobedience they would suffer the just punishment for that.

They could not in reason expect any other than that, if they continued obstinate in their disobedience, they should be abandoned to ruin, and the sentence of the law should be executed upon them.

Henry said these truths about God’s reasonableness were not just applicable to Old Testament Israel but also to the New Testament church.

The case needs only to be stated (as it is here very fairly) and it will determine itself. God shows here upon what terms they stood and then leaves it to them to judge whether these terms are not fair and reasonable.

And now life and death, good and evil, are thus set before you. Come, and let us reason together. What have you to object against the equity of this, or against complying with God’s terms?”

Religion has reason on its side; there is all the reason in the world why we should do as God would have us do.

Interestingly, Henry’s favorite New Testament verse, at least judged by frequency of occurrence, was: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). In other words, it’s not just that God is reasonable and reasons with us, but He also calls us to be reasonable and to reason with others in our Gospel witness.

Check Out


The Gospel Was Given for a Time Like This | Tim Challies
Much-needed Gospel clarity in an age of moral confusion.

Apparently, Christian pop music is peppier than life. | Denny Burk
Denny comments on a recent analysis of popular Christian worship songs.

The Trans-formation Of Women’s Sports | Rod Dreher, The American Conservative
Well that didn’t take long. Welcome to our wonderful new world:

High school girls in Alaska are crying foul after a male sprinter took home all-state honors in girls’ track and field. According to local reports, it was the first time in Alaskan history that a male athlete competed in the girls’ state championships.

Living a Life of Stunning Significance | Richard Phillips, Ligonier
“I have known many Christian men who felt like losers because they were never war heroes, sports stars, or corporate titans. Against this way of thinking (really, this idolatry), I submit the case of Lawrence Dow, servant of Christ.”

One Facebook, Two Worlds, Three Problems | Trevin Wax, TGC
Trevin Wax challenges our dependence on Facebook:

When we are united by outrage, we look and sound just like the world. So let’s think about the long-term formative effect of our Facebook feeds that reinforce our righteousness, and figure out ways to respond with cheerful confidence in God’s good purposes for the world.

Introducing the Evangelical History Blog | Thomas S. Kidd, TGC
As someone who has come to love history rather late in life, I’m so looking forward to this new blog partnership between Justin Taylor and Thomas Kidd.

How Giving Up TV For A Month Changed My Brain And My Life | Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company
“Watching a couple hours of TV a day can have major effects on your brain. So what would happen if you quit cold turkey?”

New Book

Missional Motherhood: The Everyday Ministry of Motherhood in the Grand Plan of God by Gloria Furman

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

Coffee: The Epic of a Commodity by H.E. Jacob ($1.99)

Developments in Biblical Counseling by J. Cameron Fraser ($2.99). A couple of endorsements of this book:

“Cautious, canny, and clear, Cameron Fraser’s sympathetic unpacking of this internal debate in Christian counseling is a bonus for the bemused.” — J. I. Packer, Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, BC

“Cameron knows his subject, writes simply and clearly, and assesses positions in a fair and balanced way. This book will help readers navigate the different approaches in biblical counseling.” — David Murray, professor of Old Testament and practical theology, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, Grand Rapids, Michigan

The Last Christian on Earth: Uncover the Enemy’s Plot to Undermine the Church by Os Guinness ($1.99)

Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke by Alex Chediak ($1.99). This is a must read for anyone in college, going there, or trying to fund kids


Beautiful Testimonies
I’m not a baptist, but I love these pre-baptism testimonies. I especially enjoyed Barbara’s story, the first in the video. She comes from Shawbost, the same Scottish village that my father grew up in, the same village I used to vacation in as a child, and a village I returned to often when I pastored in the Island of Lewis for seven years. Barbara was converted after 70 years of living in worldly pleasure. Watch it (only 9 mins), weep tears of joy, and pray for the unconverted in our own families with new hope. Unfortunately, the video does not allow for embedding, so you’ll have to click through.

Check out


What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war – The Washington Post
Whatever the spiritual condition of this chaplain, his story of trauma reminds us of the need to pray for chaplains and those they serve in the armed forces.

British Christianity isn’t dying. It’s sleeping. Evangelism can awaken it
The stats are grim but hope stays strong.

10 Phrases Every Leader Should Use More Often
“As a pastor and speaker on Dave Ramsey’s team, I’ve had the chance to speak to church leaders across the country. I’ve met some amazing leaders. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on what makes a pastor effective. A big part of it? Word choice. It’s so simple! I love that. So check this out: Here are 10 phrases that pastors should add to their vocabularies. ”

Pastor Through Presence
“One-on-one pastoral care is time-consuming and inefficient. And yet, proximity is an important factor in pastoral care.”

John Knox: Christ Was at the Center of His Life
“From the first page to the last of John Knox’s written works, the reader is brought relentlessly back to the source of Knox’s greatness: Christ was at the center of every dimension of his life. It is this, and this alone, that made Knox mighty in his weakness.”

State leader quits ACLU after daughters were ‘visibly frightened’ by men using women’s restroom | LifeSite
A left-wing ACLU leader quits after her children suffer from ACLU policies. She said “the ACLU has become a special interest organization that promotes not all, but certain progressive rights. The “hierarchy of rights” the ACLU chooses to defend or ignore based on who is funding the organization’s lobbying activities.”

Math: Christian Songwriters Love ‘Grace’ But Often Ignore ‘Sin’ and ‘Judgment’ | RELEVANT Magazine
“The analytics gurus at Nate Silver’s have confirmed with math something that Christian music fans have long-suspected: Mainstream Christian pop is ” unrelentingly cheerful.”


Here’s my review of Indescribable, a book that left a deep mark upon me.

Check Out


Retirement Reexamined | James Clark, Institute for Faith, Works, and Economics
“This kind of carefree, work-free post-retirement life is a widely shared dream today, but it does not align with a Christian understanding of work and vocation. Retirement and old age do not signal the end of one’s vocation, as attested to by R. Paul Stevens in Aging Matters: Finding Your Calling for the Rest of Your Life.

New Series: Taking Back Christianese | Michale J. Kruger, Canon Fodder
“This series is designed to analyze a number of theological phrases or practical bits of Christians wisdom that may simply be wrong, or at least misunderstood. Or maybe both.”

Help Me Teach the Bible: Colin Smith on How to Teach Christ in the Joseph Story | Nancy Guthrie, TGC
“We discussed how to teach the story of Joseph with Christ at the center, as demonstrated in Smith’s ‘Snapshots of a Godly Life’ sermon series.”

Columns from Tabletalk Magazine, June 2016 | Ligonier
Links to several free columns and articles from this month’s issue on Legalism.

Fearing the mic | Josh Thiessan, The Cripplegate
Overcome your fear of public speaking with some help from the Puritan, Richard Baxter.

Why I Am Not Liberal | Tim Challies
“While the terminology of theological liberalism has faded, the spirit of liberalism lives on.”

Be Coached: 5 lessons I’ve learned from a ministry legend. |
Warren Wiersbe’s grandson reflects on what he’s learned from him.

Kindle Deals

Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker ($1.99)

Reckless Abandon: A Gospel Pioneer’s Exploits Among the Most Difficult to Reach Peoples by David Sitton ($0.99)

No Greatness without Goodness: How a Father’s Love Changed a Company and Sparked a Movement by Randy Lewis ($2.99). One of my favorite reads of 2014. The VP of Walgreens’ experience of having an autistic son motivated him to initiate a national program to hire more people with special needs — improving profitability in the process.


Learning Greek Is a Lifetime Journey | B&H Academic Blog
Click through for some great advice on learning and continuing to learn Greek.

New Books in the PRTS Library

One of the privileges of working at PRTS is the weekly arrival of new books to supplement our library of 70,000+ books. Here are some of the new selections this week.

Note: Inclusion in the library does not necessarily mean endorsement of contents. We often have to buy books to help students with specialist theses and also to train students to think critically. Also, a book new to the library does not necessarily mean a new book on the market.

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.

The Church: A Theological and Historical Account by Gerald Bray

“Solid, shrewd, and most thorough, this superlative survey of God’s people on earth past and present will be a boon not only for seminarians but also for many more of us besides. It is a truly outstanding performance.” -J. I. Packer, Regent College

The Bible in Christian North Africa by Maureen A. Tilley

“Maureen A. Tilley’s study gives new insight into the Donatist church by focusing attention on the surviving Donatist controversies. She persuasively shows how Donatist interpretations of Scripture correlate with changes in the social setting of their church.”

Wandering Souls: Protestant Migrations in America, 1630-1865 by S. Scott Rohrer

“Popular literature and frontier studies stress that Americans moved west to farm or to seek a new beginning. Scott Rohrer argues that Protestant migrants in early America relocated in search of salvation, Christian community, reform, or all three.”


Historical Milton: Manuscript, Print, and Political Culture in Revolutionary England by Thomas Fulton

“John Milton’s Commonplace Book is the only known political notebook of a radical polemicist writing during the English civil war, and the most extensive manuscript record of reading we have from any major English poet from this period. In this rethinking of a surprisingly neglected body of evidence, Thomas Fulton explores Milton’s reading practices and the ways he used this reading in his writing.”

As We Grow Old: How Adult Children and Their Parents Can Face Aging With Candor and Grace by Ruth Fowler

Learning to Read and Write in Colonial America by E. Jennifer Monaghan

“An experienced teacher of reading and writing and an award-winning historian, E. Jennifer Monaghan brings to vibrant life the process of learning to read and write in colonial America. Ranging throughout the colonies from New Hampshire to Georgia, she examines the instruction of girls and boys, Native Americans and enslaved Africans, the privileged and the poor, revealing the sometimes wrenching impact of literacy acquisition on the lives of learners.”

The New Testament and Hellenistic Judaism edited by Peder Borgen and Soren Giversen

The Syntax of the Verb in Classical Hebrew Prose by Alviero Niccacci

Temples, Tithes, and Taxes: The Temple and the Economic Life of Ancient Israel by Marty E. Stevens

“The temple in Jerusalem was both the center of ancient Israel’s religious life and also an economic center for the nation. In this groundbreaking study of the economic functions of the Jerusalem temple, Marty E. Stevens … demonstrates that the temple acted as the central bank, internal revenue collector, source of loans, and even debt collector for ancient Israel.”

Islamic Da`wah in the West: Muslim Missionary Activity and the Dynamics of Conversion to Islam by Larry Poston

“This book explains the concept of Islamic ‘da’wah’, or missionary activity, as it has developed in contemporary Western contexts. Poston traces the transition from the early ‘external-institutional’ missionary approach impracticable in modern Western society, to an ‘internal-personal’ approach which aims at the conversion of individuals and seeks to influence society from the bottom upwards. Poston also combines the results of a questionnaire-survey with an analysis of published testimonies to identify significant traits that distinguish converts to Islam.”

The German Roots of Nineteenth-Century American Theology by Annette G. Aubert

“By exploring the significant influence of German theology, especially mediating theology, on American religious thought, this book sheds new and welcome light on nineteenth-century American Reformed theology. It is the first full-scale examination of that influence on the Mercersburg theology of Emanuel V. Gerhart and the Princeton theology of Charles Hodge.”

Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church by Richard Bauckham

“This volume is an original and important contribution to the study of the earliest Palestinian Jewish Christianity. For the first time all the evidence for the role which relatives of Jesus played in the early church is assembled and assessed. Dr. Bauckham discusses a wide range of evidence, not only from the New Testament but also from the Church Fathers, the New Testament Apocrypha, rabbinic literature and Palestinian archaeology. The letter of Jude, in particular, proves to have much to teach us about the theology of the brothers of Jesus and their circle…”

How to Be an Atheist: Why Many Skeptics Aren’t Skeptical Enough by Mitch Stokes

“Atheists talk a lot about the importance of skepticism. But the truth is, they’re not nearly skeptical enough…”

What Is God Doing in Israel: When Jews and Palestinians Meet Jesus by Julia Fisher

“Author Julia Fisher presents fourteen true stories from Jewish, Arab, and Palestinian believers living in Israel and Palestinian areas that describe what God is doing despite the current tide of political and religious turmoil. ”

John Calvin’s “Institutes of the Christian Religion”: A Biography by Bruce Gordon

“Here, Bruce Gordon provides an essential biography of Calvin’s influential and enduring theological masterpiece, tracing the diverse ways it has been read and interpreted from Calvin’s time to today.”

Sacred Violence in Early America by Susan Juster

Sacred Violence in Early America offers a sweeping reinterpretation of the violence endemic to seventeenth-century English colonization by reexamining some of the key moments of cultural and religious encounter in North America.”

C. S. Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”: A Biography by George M. Marsden

Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis’s eloquent and winsome defense of the Christian faith, originated as a series of BBC radio talks broadcast during the dark days of World War Two. Here is the story of the extraordinary life and afterlife of this influential and much-beloved book.”