Monday, January 31, 2011

Getting back to Romans

"But now we are delivered from the law...." (Romans 7:6).

Last Sunday morning I had the privilege of getting back to preaching through Romans with a message on Romans 7:1-6.  Months ago I completed a series on Romans chapters 1-6.  Lord willing, the new series will cover chapters 7-8. After another break, I hope at some point to continue the series through chapters 9-11 and then, eventually, complete the study with chapters 12-16.

Of Paul's statement in Romans 7:6, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones observed, "If the expression 'But now' does not move you, I take leave to query whether you are a Christian."


Even More Grace Points Audio

I posted the other five Grace Points messages to sermonaudio today:

What's In A Name? C-R-B-C:  Grace Points # 1

Worship Local:  Grace Points # 2

TULIP:  Grace Points # 3

He Died For Me:  Grace Points # 4

Using Your Eyes Correctly:  Grace Points # 5


We get letters!

Our Grace Points spots haven't started running yet on local radio yet, but I got one email response via sermonaudio from someone who took exception with the 400th Anniversary of the KJV spot.  Below is the email in full (name and email address removed) followed by the response I sent back:

 Am curiously interested in your ministry and therefore shocked of your using the quote for the King James Bible (Grace Points 10) that implies the holy word of God is needful of celebrity endorsements, and even abuse (misapplication), by those Deists and heretics of American history--i.e. Abraham Lincoln and MLK! After all, even Satan (mis)quoted Scripture in tempting Jesus in the wilderness.

While the humanistic laws of political correctness requires all to bow to these two men upon cue, the word of God stands entirely against them, does it not? Were these men true Christians in your view, in their teachings, simply because they misappropriated scriptural phrases for their own purposes--i.e. for political propaganda for unjust wars and social revolutions?

I can see your teaching warns against "democratic leveling" and an absolute "equality", which the Bible absolutely does not teach, but forbids. Yet these men are lifted up for endorsing the holy Bible, when nothing they did was consistent with it. (What kind of philosophical crowd will this ad bring into your church then?)

Furthermore, the Pilgrims and Puritans preferred the Geneva Bible which (their persecutor) King James' "authorized version" supplanted, which removed the Calvinistic notes (justifying those who resist tyranny of Kings, as Egyptian midwives did with Hebrews giving birth) from public eye, and incorporated the pagan name 'Easter' (instead of pasche, for the very first time in English translations), into Acts.

After all, it was King James England that the Pilgrim's called "Babylon" when fleeing to America for religious liberty. It was King James Anglo-Catholicism that the Puritans resisted. The AV was King James Revised Version of the better Bible that the Puritans used and preferred. While better than other translations, it was not better than the former, and maybe the first "liberal" Bible that was publicly thrust upon us by declaration of a government leader.

I am still speechless to hear Lincoln and MLK used to endorse a Bible, when everything they taught was Humanism and anti-Christianity (false Christianity), rejection of God's social order, the beginning of so-called Human Rights which feminists and now the homosexualists claim, and furthered the "Democratization of Christianity in America" (as your good book review also refers to), and almost implies that these two men were both Christians and saints (as too many think from writers who have deified them) whom Christians and others should listen to instead of be warned about for their false teaching, which Calvinistic Baptists and Presbyterians of the South vehemently rejected with just cause.

Very sincerely bewildered, W.

My reply (slightly edited):

Hi W.,

First, thanks for your feedback on the KJV "Grace Points" spot. Obviously, it's not the easiest to give a full treatment of any topic in a 60 second time limit!

I think most of the things you took exception to (e.g., endorsements of the KJV by Lincoln, King, etc.) were not actually my statements but part of the quote from Adam Nicolson's book "God's Secretaries." Nicolson is, in fact, not a believer. What I find interesting is that this secular author still values highly the literary and cultural impact of the KJV (even on non-evangelicals and non-believers!). See a previous blogpost I did on Nicolson here.

Believe me, I did give thought to the mention of these men in the spot in writing the script. In the end, I concluded a somewhat "positive" report on how the KJV influenced their speech might actually work well in making an educated, secular Charlottesvillian listen and think. Maybe it just makes conservatives cringe!

Another thing you seem to find fault with is my praise for the KJV (rather than the Geneva Bible). I too, am a fan of the Geneva Bible a read it regularly. Though my admiration for the KJV continues to grow, I am not a KJV-Only-ist. Two of the things I like best about both the KJV and the Geneva is the fact that (1) they both use a "formal equivalence" translation philosophy; and (2) they are both based on the traditional text of Scripture (Hebrew MT; Greek TR). The KJV did, as I understand it, develop, in part, as a political response to the popularity of the Geneva Bible. There were, however, Calvinists on the translations committee of the KJV. Part of their preference for the KJV was the fact that it did not have notes. Many conversative believers still prefer that the Bible not be printed with notes, even if they are good ones (see the Trinitarian Bible Society). The KJV did not triumph among the English speaking peoples because of any royal edict (in fact,as I understand it, the name "Authorized Version" preferred by the English is a bit of a misnomer since there was never any official royal pronouncement "authorizing" the exclusive use of the KJV). I think it won its place as the most widely used English translaton because it proved to be a better translation for God's people in worship and private devotions than the Geneva. No doubt, the providential hand of God played no small part in this.

Grace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

In addition, here are a few more links for those interested in this topic:

Regarding the use of the word "Easter" in the AV, see this article "The Use of 'Easter' in Acts 12:4" by T. H. Brown on the Trinitarian Bible Society website.

Regarding English translations, I'd suggest again the audio messages and booklet by William Einwechter.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Grace Points Audio

I just posted the audio for five of the ten "Grace Points" devotional messages that we will begin running on local radio in February:

What is the Church?:  Grace Points # 6

 Bigger Than We Knew:  Grace Points # 7

No Greater Story:  Grace Points # 8

Interpreting Scripture:  Grace Points # 9

400th Anniversary of the KJV:  Grace Points # 10


Congratulations to Kabwata Baptist Church on its 25th Anniversary!

Image:  A worship service at KBC in 2010

I got the following email this morning from my friend Pastor Conrad Mbewe in Zambia:

Kabwata Baptist Church turned 25 years old last Tuesday. We almost missed the occasion because we have been in the throes of preparing for our in-house missions conference. However, the Lord tapped me on the shoulder just in time. Read all about it in this blog post when you have a few minutes to spare.

Yours truly,


Congratulations to Kabwata Baptist Church on reaching this milestone and all praise to the Lord for raising up this congregation and using it so strategically to promote the gospel and the Reformed Baptist movement in Zambia and around the world.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Vision (1/27/11): What's in a name? C-R-B-C

Note: Here’s another script for one of the “Grace Points” devotionals that will begin running on local talk radio (AM 1260; FM 107.5) in February. Again, join us in praying for this outreach!

Welcome to Grace Points, a ministry of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia:

As a father of five children, I can tell you that it’s a wonderful privilege to name a newborn or adopted child.

It’s also a privilege to name a new church. When we planted our church last year we named it Christ Reformed Baptist Church. Each part has meaning.

Christ. We want to be Christ-centered and Christ-saturated. He must increase and we must decrease.

Reformed. We are committed to the classical, Biblical positions of the Protestant Reformation.

Baptist. We hold that believer’s baptism by immersion is the New Testament practice.

Church. We believe in the importance of the visible, local church. Jesus himself constituted the church, declaring, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Christ Reformed is a new church plant, meeting each Sunday at 10:30 am at the Branchlands Professional Building, 1410 Incarnation Drive. They can also be reached on the web at

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Sermon of the Week: Einwechter on English Bible Translations

In this 400th anniversary year of the Authorized Version of the Bible (1611-2011), you might enjoy listening to this series of messages by William Einwechter of Immanuel Free Reformed Church on "English Bible translations":

Einwechter affirms the Westminster/Second Londong Baptist affirmation on the providential preservation of Scripture.  He argues that translations should follow a "formal equivalence" rather than "dynamic equivalent" philosophy.  He also defends the traditional text of the Bible (The Masoretic Hebrew text of the OT and the Greek Textus Receptus of the NT).  He also states his preference for use of the KJV in church and private life without adopting a "KJV-Only" position.

Einwechter has also written one of the best little booklets on this topic I have read.  It is titled "English Bible Translations:  By What Standard?" and is published and distributed through Chapel Library, the distributor of extremely useful and inexpensive tracts and booklets.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watson: "walk with them that are pure"

Among Thomas Watson's eight exhortations for attaining heart-purity, was his call to "beware of the society of the wicked" (The Beatitudes)  He follows that call with its flip side, the call to seek wholesome company:

If you would be pure, walk with them that are pure. As the communion of the saints is in our Creed, so it should be in our company. 'He that walketh with the wise shall be wise’ (Proverbs 13: 20), and he that walketh with the pure shall be pure. The saints are like a bed of spices. By intermixing ourselves with them we shall partake of their savouriness. Association begets assimilation. Sometimes God blesses good society to the conversion of others.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Virginia General Assembly will study homeschool participation in athletics

This week the House Education Committee of the Virginia General Assembly set aside a homeschool athletic bill (sponsored by Albemarle County's Delegate Rob Bell) for study.  The bad news is that homeschooled children will apparently not be able to try out for and play high school sports in the upcoming year (2011-2012).  The good news is that the recommendation was not completely killed in committee as I understand it has been in years' past.

Those of us who homeschool save our localities tens of thousands of dollars each year.  The Virginia High School League, however, has fought tooth and nail to block homeschool children from participating in public sponsored athletics.

Of course, some Christian families might want to avoid competitive athletics altogether.  Still, for those who want to participate it seems unfair that homeschool families pay taxes but are barred from such benefits offered to the public.  What, for example, would it be like if homeschool children were not allowed to visit public libraries because they opted out of government sponsored education?

Here is yesterday's Lynchburg News & Advance online article:

Home-schooled students in Virginia may one day play sports on public school teams, but it doesn’t look likely this year.

The House Education Committee this morning decided to study a bill that would allow home-schooled students to try out for public school sports teams. Chairman Del. Robert Tata, R-Virginia Beach, said a group of committee members will over the summer study the issue, which elicits passionate arguments from parents of home-schooled students and advocates on one side and parents of public school students and the Virginia High School League on the other.

Tata said he will ask the Senate Education Committee chairman to launch a similar study, and potentially meet together to discuss findings before next year's legislative session.

Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who sponsored the House bill, said he’s OK with a study to try to hash out differences.

“Hopefully, this moves the ball forward,” he said.


Watson: "Beware of the society of the wicked"

I continued my preaching series last Sunday through the Beatitudes with “Blessed are the pure in heart.” Still using Thomas Watson’s exposition as a guide. Watson provides discussion of 8 means to provide heart-purity. One of these is: “Take heed to familiar converse and intercourse with the wicked.” Along the way he also addresses those who would protest that they might have worldly companions, since Jesus kept company with sinners. Here are Watson’s comments:

Take heed of familiar converse and intercourse with the wicked. One vain mind makes another. One hard heart makes another. The stone in the body is not infectious, but the stone in the heart is. One profane spirit poisons another. Beware of the society of the wicked.

Some may object: But what hurt is in this? Did not Jesus converse with sinners? (Luke 5: 29).

(i) There was a necessity for that. If Jesus had not come among sinners, how could any have been saved? He went among sinners, not to join with them in their sins. He was not a companion of sinners but a physician of sinners.

(ii) Though Christ did converse with sinners, he could not be polluted with their sin. His divine nature was a sufficient antidote to preserve him from infection. Christ could be no more defiled with their sin than the sun is defiled by shining on a dunghill. Sin could no more stick on Christ than a burr on a glass of crystal. The soil of his heart was so pure that no viper of sin could breed there. But the case is altered with us. We have a stock of corruption within and the least thing will increase this stock. Therefore it is dangerous mingling ourselves among the wicked. If we would be pure in heart let us shun their society. He that would preserve his garment clean avoids the dirt. The wicked are as the mire (Isaiah 57:20). The fresh waters running among the salt taste brackish.


Monday, January 24, 2011

The text and translation of 1 Samuel 6:19: Part 3

Continuing our examination of how some of the faithful “old path” men view text and translation issues in 1 Samuel 6:19 (see part 1 and part 2), we turn to Matthew Henry (1662-1714). Henry, like Poole, does not deal with the LXX expansion, though he surely knew of it. He thereby expresses his confidence in the Masoretic text of the Hebrew. He does, however, address the issue of translating the number “70 men, 50,000 men” (literal Hebrew) in the verse.

Henry’s notes reveal his awareness that the Hebrew “is expressed in a very unusual manner” and lists various possibilities while sticking with the traditional rendering:

He smote 50,070 men. This account of the numbers smitten is expressed in a very unusual manner in the original, which, besides the improbability that there should be so many guilty and so many slain, occasions many learned men to question whether we take the matter aright. In the original it is, He smote in (or among) the people three score and ten men, fifty thousand men. The Syriac and Arabic read it, five thousand and seventy men. The Chaldee reads it, seventy men of the elders, and fifty thousand of the common people. Seventy men as valuable as 50,000, so some, because they were priests. Some think the seventy men were the Beth-shemites that were slain for looking into the ark, and the 50,000 were those that were slain by the ark, in the land of the Philistines. He smote seventy men, that is, fifty out of a thousand, which was one in twenty, a half decimation; so some understand it. The Septuagint read it much as we do, he smote seventy men, and fifty thousand men. Josephus says only seventy were smitten.

Some conclusions: Modern scholars have not really uncovered anything about the text of 1 Samuel 6:19 that was not known by men of old (including Reformation era translators of the Geneva Bible and AV). There is no reason to abandon the traditional Hebrew text to accommodate LXX readings or to depart from an attempt to take literally the number of 50,070 as the best translation of the Hebrew figure for the number struck down by the Lord for “looking into the ark.”


Saturday, January 22, 2011

The text and translation of 1 Samuel 6:19: Part 2

In the previous post, I noted two textual and translational difficulties with 1 Samuel 6:19: (1) an expansion in the LXX concerning “the sons of Jechoniah”; and (2) the translation of the number of men struck down by God as 50,070 (as in translations that formally follow the traditional text, such as the AV, NKJV, and NASB) or as merely 70 (as in translations that depart from the Hebrew text without explanation, such as the JB, NEB, RSV/ESV, and NIV).

Now, we turn to look at how some of the faithful “old men” dealt with these issues in their commentaries. First, we look at Matthew Poole (1624-1679). Beeke and Pederson call Poole’s work “the best basic Puritan commentary for daily Bible study” (Meet the Puritans, p. 487). First, Poole does not address the LXX expansion at all, though he was surely aware of it. This reading is not part of the traditional Hebrew text, so it is not a valid option for consideration. As to the second issue, Poole offers an exceptionally extended reflection on this difficulty in which he provides a reasonable defense of the traditional reading (of both the text and translation) and an awareness of challenges that have been offered against it:

Fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: This may seem an incredible relation, both because that place could not afford so great a number, and because it seems an act of great rigour, that God should no severely punish those people who came with so much zeal and joy to congratulate the return of the ark, and that for so inconsiderable an error. For the latter branch of the objection, it may be said,

(1) That God always used to be most severe in punishing his own people, as sinning against more knowledge and warning than others; especially for such sins as immediately concern his own worship and service.

(2) That men are very incompetent judges of these matters, because they do not understand all the reasons and causes of God’s judgments. For although God took this just occasion to punish them for that crime which was so severely forbidden even to the common Levites under pain of death; of which see Numb iv.18-20; yet it is apparent that the people were at this time guilty of many other and greater miscarriages, for which God might justly inflict the present punishment upon them; and moreover, there are many secret sins which escape man’s observation, but are seen by God, before whom many persons may be deeply guilty, whom some men esteem innocent and virtuous. And therefore men should take heed of censuring the judgments of God, of which it is most truly said, that they are oft secret, but never unrighteous.

And for the former branch of the objection, many things are or may be said:

(1) That the land of Israel was strangely populous. See 2 Sam xxiv.9; 2 Chron xiii.3.

(2) That all these were not the settled inhabitants of this place, but most of them such as did, and in all probability would, resort thither in great numbers upon so illustrious an occasion.

(3) That all these were not struck dead in the very fact, and upon the place, which would have terrified others from following their example; but were secretly struck with some disease or plague, which killed them in a little time.

(4) That divers learned men translate and understand the placed otherwise, and make the number much smaller. Josephus the Jew and the Hebrew doctors, and many others, contend that only seventy persons were slain; which though it seem but a small number, yet might justly be called a great slaughter, either for the quality of the persons slain or for the greatness and extraordinariness of the stroke; or because it was a great number, considering the smallness of the place, and the sadness of the occasion. The words in the Hebrew are these, and thus placed, he smote of or among the people seventy men, fifty thousand men; whereas say they, the words should have been otherwise placed, and the greater number put before the less, if this had been meant, that he smote fifty thousand and seventy men. And one very learned man renders the words thus, He smote of the people seventy men, even fifty of a thousand, the particle mem, of, or out of, being understood, as it is very frequently. So the meaning is, that God smote every twentieth man of the transgressors, as the Romans used to cut off every tenth man in case of the general guilt of an army. Or the words may be rendered thus, He smote of or among the people seventy men out of fifty thousand men; the particle mem, of, or, out of, being understood before the word fifty, which Bochart puts before a thousand; and it may be thus expressed, to show that God did temper his severity with great clemency; and whereas there were thousands of transgressors (every one following his brother’s example, as is usual in such cases,) God only singled out seventy of the principle offenders, who either sinned most against their light or office, or were the ringleaders or chief encouragers of the rest. To which may be added, that the ancient translators, the Syriac and the Arabic, read the place five thousand and seventy men, being supposed to have read in their Hebrew copies chamesh, five, for chamishim, fifty, which is no great alteration in the word.


Friday, January 21, 2011

The Queen of the Sciences now a scullery maid

In the Introduction to his A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Robert Reymond justifies theology as an intellectual discipline which has fallen upon “hard times.” In the discussion he shares this great quote from Gordan Clark:

Theology, once acclaimed ‘the Queen of the Sciences,’ today hardly rises to the rank of a scullery maid; it is often held in contempt, regarded with suspicion, or just ignored (p. xxvii).


Do you really learn anything in college?

The AP had an interesting and sobering article the other day (running in today's Daily Progress) on a new study that suggests most students really don't learn that much in college:

The research of more than 2,300 undergraduates found 45 percent of students show no significant improvement in the key measures of critical thinking, complex reasoning and writing by the end of their sophomore years.

One problem is that students just aren't asked to do much, according to findings in a new book, "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses." Half of students did not take a single course requiring 20 pages of writing during their prior semester, and one-third did not take a single course requiring even 40 pages of reading per week.

The old saying is that education is wasted on the young.  Now it seems that the young might be wasted on education.  Having visited several schools with my daughter over the last year, it seems that in many place the greatest emphasis is on the "college experience" (sporting events, social life, parties, clubs and organizations, fitness centers, etc.) rather than the "education experience."

This gives plenty of food for thought.  You can understand why many Christian parents who have homeschooled their children are now reevaluating sending them off to college.  If you spend the money and time to go to college, then it, at least, ought to be done purposefully. 


Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Vision (1/20/11): Grace Points

Image:  Dorwan and Mavy Stoddard

Note: Starting in February we will begin broadcasting a one minute devotional called “Grace Points” on local talk radio (AM 1260; FM 107.5). The spots should run three times each weekday (between 6 am and 7 pm). We are thankful to friends from within and outside our congregation who provided the funds for this outreach. I recorded ten of these devotionals this week at the radio station and below is a script for one of the spots. Pray now for those who will listen to these “Grace Points” over their upcoming 13 week run.

Welcome to Grace Points, a ministry of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia:

When shots rang out at the Safeway on that terrible January day in Tucson, Dorwan Stoddard did what a man is supposed to do. The 76 year old retired construction worker stepped in front of his wife, covered her body, and shielded her from the bullets. In so doing, he sacrificed his life, that she might be spared.

At his funeral, the LA Times reported that his wife spoke from a wheelchair with her husband’s four sons by her side. With her voice breaking she said, “He died for me, and I have to live for him.”

This is something like the way the Christian looks at the cross.

In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Christ Reformed is a new church plant, meeting each Sunday at 10:30 am at the Branchlands Professional Building, 1410 Incarnation Drive. They can also be reached on the web at

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Was Bonhoeffer an Evangelical?

I just finished reading Eric Metaxas’ biography of German theologian and Nazi resister Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy [Thomas Nelson, 2010]). I got it as a Christmas gift from my wife's parents.  I first encountered Bonhoeffer while in college by reading his classic study of the Sermon on the Mount, The Cost of Discipleship. I later read Life Together, his book on Christian community, and Letters and Papers from Prison, his collected and edited writings composed while he was imprisoned for his role in plotting against Hitler. Though there is much to appreciate in Bonhoeffer, particularly his prophetic stand against Nazi atrocities, I recall that while reading him I also sensed that his commitments were certainly not those of a conservative, evangelical believer. I particularly remember being puzzled by his celebrated musings on the future of Christianity in the modern world and “religionless Christianity.”

I found Metaxas’ biography to be an engaging and gripping read. I enjoyed it. There were points along the way when I was puzzled and often pleasantly surprised by what I read. These include Metaxas’ description of Bonhoeffer’s disappointment with the liberal Protestantism of Harry Emerson Fosdick’s Riverside Church during his stint at Union Seminary in New York. Metaxas’ describes something like an evangelical conversion after Bonhoeffer’s return from America (see the section “The Great Change” pp. 121-124), as evidenced in personal Bible study and churchmanship. Metaxas also defends some of Bonhoeffer’s more controversial writings, calling him perhaps “the most misunderstood theologian who ever lived” (p. 365). Metaxas especially defends Bonhoeffer’s coining of the concept of “religionless Christianity” as “inchoate thoughts in his letters” that have “tangled his legacy” (p. 465). Metaxas even attacks “death of God” theologians and other liberals who embraced these ideas:

"The strange theological climate after World War II and the interest in the martyred Bonhoeffer were such that the few bone fragments in these private letters were set upon by famished kites and less noble birds, many of whose descendents gnaw them still. All of which has led to a terrific misunderstanding of Bonhoeffer’s theology and which lamentably washed backward over his earlier thinking and writing" (p. 466).

For Metaxas, Bonhoeffer has been misunderstood and misinterpreted by liberals who have embraced and distorted his theology. Indeed, Metaxas makes Bonhoeffer over into an evangelical, even leaving the impression that Bonhoeffer took a pro-life stand against abortion (p. 472, though the quotations cited, as with many things in Bonhoeffer, are not quite so clear).

There were a few other minor things I took notice of in the book. These include what appears to be a strange “dynamic equivalent” translation of the German poem Octoberlied (p. 459) and a citation of Matthew 10:17-42 as part of “the Sermon on the Mount” which is, in fact, found in Matthew 5—7 (p. 536). Not much to quibble at.

Yesterday, however, I ran across an interesting post by uber-blogger Tim Challies on Metaxas’ book. Though he had originally read and praised the book on his blog, Challies posted a follow up review on January 18 titled “Counterfeit Bonhoeffer.” In that post, Challies notes that many of the most respected Bonhoeffer scholars have panned Metaxas’ book as factually, historically, and intellectually flawed. Most significantly, it makes Bonhoeffer, a classical European Protestant liberal, into an evangelical. Indeed, it seems there are many evangelicals, perhaps especially those with an interest in social and cultural engagement, who would like to make Bonhoeffer into one of their own. Bonhoeffer has become neo-evangelical Calvinist “cool.” The forward to Metaxas’ book is written by Tim Keller. Carl Trueman has said that “these days quoting Bonhoeffer is like quoting Bono: you have to do it if you want the soul-patched thirty-somethings to take you seriously” (for the quote, see this post).

The question is whether or not this neo-evangelical revisioning of Bonhoeffer is truthful. One of the best comments on this brewing controversy came from Carl Trueman in a follow up to Challies titled “Bonhoeffer and Anonymous Evangelicals”: “Sometimes the problem derives from us asking a fundamentally wrong-headed question. Of more value than `Was he an evangelical?' is surely `How can I learn from him how better to be a Christian?’”


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The text and translation of 1 Samuel 6:19: Part 1

In preaching through 1 Samuel, I have come across several significant textual issues. Through the meticulous efforts of the Masoretes, the traditional Old Testament text is less contested than the New Testament text. Still, even the traditional Masoretic text is being increasingly challenged by modern textual critics, interpreters, and translators. Issues in 1 Samuel often have to do with the fact that versions (most notably the LXX) sometimes depart from and expand the received text. The question raised by these readings is whether they might rest on what could be considered to be a superior Hebrew manuscript.

1 Samuel 6:19 provides two intriguing textual and translation issues:

I. 1 Samuel 6:19 provides an example of a Septuagintal expansion.

The LXX adds the phrase, “And the sons of Jechoniah were not pleased with the men of Beth-Shemesh, when they looked at the ark of the Lord [kai ouk esmenisan hoi huioi Iechoniou en tois andrasin Baithsamus hoti eidon kiboton kuriou].” There are several modern English translations that follow the LXX here. Compare:

JB (Jerusalem Bible): Of the people of Beth-shemesh the sons of Jechoniah had not rejoiced when they saw the ark of Yahweh, and he struck down seventy of them.

NEB (New English Bible): But the sons of Jechoniah did not rejoice with the rest of the men of Beth-shemesh when they welcomed the ark of the LORD, and he struck down seventy of them.

Most Bibles used by evangelicals, however, tend to stay with the Hebrew text (AV, NIV, RSV/ESV, NKJV, NASB). Dale Ralph Davis, however, is intrigued by the reference to the “sons of Jechoniah” appearing “out of the blue” and concludes, “There is something to be said for following the Sepuagint here” (1 Samuel [Christian Focus, 2000, p. 66]). He also claims to be baffled that some translations can follow the Hebrew without referencing the LXX, while others (e.g., JB and NEB) follow the LXX without reference to the Hebrew (Ibid., n. 13). Despite Davis’ enthusiasm for the LXX here, it seems wisest to stick with the traditional Hebrew text of 1 Samuel 6:19.

II. There is also a question about the record of the number of men killed in 1 Samuel 6:19.

This second difficulty does not have to do with the LXX. The question here relates to the interpretation of the Hebrew record of the number of men from Beth-Shemesh who were struck down by God after presumptuously looking “into the ark of the LORD.” The traditional text records the number as shuhbim ish chamishim elpeh ish (literally, “seventy men, fifty thousand men” or as the AV renders it, “fifty thousand and threescore and ten men”).

This figure, however, has long been under scrutiny in the history of interpretation. There have been two main objections lodged against this rendering. First, it is argued that the number of 50,070 is too great. How could that many men have been present at Beth-Shemesh? Second, it is argued that the scale of God’s wrath is too great. Would God have struck down this many men for this violation?

In addition, some have questioned the proper translation of the text. Could the writer have meant to say something like, the Lord struck down “seventy men out of 50,000 men”? Indeed, the much lower (reasonable?) number of “seventy” is preferred by many modern interpreters. In fact, several modern translations simply alter their rendering of this verse to reflect this figure though it has no textual basis in the Hebrew manuscripts. Compare (emphasis added):

NIV: But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them,

ESV: And he struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon the ark of the LORD. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the LORD had struck the people with a great blow.

The ESV also includes in a footnote: “Hebrew of the people seventy men, fifty thousand men.” It is also worth noting that the JB and NEB cited above agree with the NIV and ESV in reading “seventy."

So which figure should we use? What is the Word of God? Were 50,070 men struck down or a “mere” seventy? First, the NIV and RSV/ESV decision to ignore translation of the phrase “fifty thousand men” in the Hebrew text and to go with “seventy” imposing an interpretation rather than offering a literal translation. Other modern translations that seek formal equivalence in translation follow the AV (so the NASB reads, “50,070 men” and the NKJV “fifty thousand and seventy men”).

It is helpful here to consult how some of the “old men” dealt with difficulties such as this. In the next post, we will look at how this difficulty was handled by some of the trusted “faithful men” of the past (Matthew Poole and Matthew Henry).


Monday, January 17, 2011

New Studies Upcoming at CRBC

Several new studies are about to begin or resume at CRBC:

Men’s Tuesday Systematic Theology Study. A group of CRBC men will meet on Tuesday mornings from 9:00 am to 10:00 am at Piedmont Virginia Community College. We will be working our way through Robert Reymond’s A New Systematic Theology (Thomas Nelson, 2nd Revised Ed. 1998).  Study begins on Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

CRBC Mid-week Prayer and Bible Study. We meet each Wednesday evening from 6:30-7:30 pm at CRBC’s office space (1410 Incarnation Drive). We are currently going verse by verse through the Gospel of John. We spend c. 30 minutes in Bible Study and c. 30 minutes in prayer.

Basics of New Testament Greek. We will meet on Wednesday evenings from 5:15-6:15 pm at CRBC’s office space (1410 Incarnation Drive) for twelve weeks starting on February 2nd. Enrollment for this class is limited.

For more info on any of these studies, email


Watson: "Christians must be tender of one another's names"

I'm continuing to preach through the Beatitudes on Sunday afternoons at CRBC and using Thomas Watson's exposition as a guide.  Yesterday I preached on the fifth beatitude: “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7).

Watson says that the beatitudes are like the stairs in Solomon’s temple that “cause our ascent to the holy of holies.” With this fifth beatitude, “We are now mounting up a step higher.”

What is meant here by mercifulness? Watson says, “it is a melting disposition whereby we lay to heart the miseries of others and are ready on all occasions to be instrumental for their good.”

As when the sun shines and ice is melted, so when Christ, the Sun of righteousness, “once shines with beams of grace upon the soul, then it melts in mercy and tenderness. You must first be a new man before a merciful man.”

Watson says that mercy is “a fountain that runs in five streams. We must be merciful to the souls, names, estates, offenses, and wants of others.”

The Puritans were, no doubt, often maligned by their religious opponents.  Perhaps this is what led Watson (and others of the Puritans) to so often speak of the importance of being careful with the names and reputations of men (Watson strikes a similar theme in his exposition of the Ten Commadments).  Watson provides an extended discussion on the second of these five streams, stressing the importance of extending mercy to the names of men.

Below is a summary of Watson's comments on this stream (you can read Watson's full comments here):

Christians must be tender of one another’s names.

A good name is great blessing. Thus, we should be “very tender of names.” One is highly unmerciful “who makes no conscience of taking away the good name of their brethren… It is a great cruelty to murder a man in his name.”

Lack of mercy is grounded in…

Pride. Some hate to see others outshine them. They must “behead another in his good name that he may appear something lower. The proud man will be pulling down of others in their reputation, and so by their eclipse he thinks he shall shine the brighter.”

Envy. “An envious man maligns the dignity of another, (and) therefore seeks to mischief him in his name.” Envy consults with the devil, “lays a train (of powder) and fetches fire from hell to blow up the good name of another.”

How do men do damage to other men’s names?

They misreport them. “Thou shalt not raise a false report” (Exod 23:1). “The saints of God in all ages have met with unmerciful men who have fathered things upon them that they have not been guilty of.” David said, “They laid to my charge things which I knew not” (Psalm 35:11). To “defame and traduce another” is “to act the part of a devil.” Like vicious dogs, such men “rend and tear the precious names of men.”

They receive slander and then report what they hear. “Thou shalt not go up and down as a tale-bearer among thy people” (Lev 19:16). “We must not only not raise a false report, but not take it up.”

They diminish the just worth and dignity of men by making “more of their infirmities and less of their virtues.” Augustine is reported to have written two verses on this table:

Whoever loves another’s name to blast,

This table’s not for him; so let him fast.

Wicked men have “a devilish art so to extenuate and lessen the merit of others, that it is even boiled away to nothing.”

Next, we are unmerciful to men’s names “when we know them to be calumniated yet do nothing to vindicate them. A man may sometimes as well wrong another by silence as slander.”

Watson urges us to “show mercy to the names of others. Be very chary and tender of men’s good names.”

If you take a man’s good name away, you “wound him in that which is most dear to him. Better to take away a man’s life than his name. By eclipsing his name, you bury him alive. It is an irreparable injury; something will remain. A wound in a name is like a flaw in a diamond or a stain in azure, which will never die out. No physician can ever heal the wounds of a tongue.”

Men must one day give account for their idle words. “God will make inquisitions one day for names as well as for blood.” One should, “Especially take heed of wounding the names of the godly.” If it was an Old Testament law not to defame a virgin, then “what is it to calumniate Christ’s spouse?”


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Vision (1/13/11): Looking Forward with Anticipation

In our first annual CRBC membership meeting on Wednesday evening (1/12/11), I offered a “state of the church” report to the congregation. Here are some notes from what I shared:

First, we look back with thankfulness for what God has already been pleased to do in raising up this congregation over the past year. We can say with the Israelites of old “Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV). We can review the past year, see our growth and development, and give all the praise and glory to God. As James 1:17 reminds us, “Every good and perfect gift is from above….”

Next, we look forward with anticipation to what the Lord might be pleased do in the year ahead. We can take to heart the words that Joshua spoke to Israel when they were on the verge of entering the promised land in conquest “Be strong and of good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them” (Joshua 1:6). The land is before us! We are not to be timid or fearful, but bold and courageous in this work to which the Lord has called us.

We should recall that when Jesus saw the multitudes of his day, “he was moved with compassion on them” (Matthew 9:36). He then turned to his disciples and said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (vv. 37-38).

Here are four practical goals for the year ahead:

1. We should continue to seek faithfulness in doctrine, worship, and practice above all. Our success cannot be measured in numbers but in fidelity to the Word of God.

2. We should continue to grow in love for one another, thus obeying the New Commandment given us by our Lord (see John 13:34-35).

3. With thankfulness for those who have offered generous support from outside our body, we hope to achieve complete self-sufficiency. By achieving this goal, we hope to be a blessing in the future to other church plants in the days ahead.

4. We hope to expand and grow our membership in the year ahead, as the Lord allows, both by conversion growth as we preach the gospel and see hearts and lives changed by Christ and by assimilation growth as we welcome those who are already believers into our fellowship and encourage them in their growth as disciples.

Let’s see what the Lord will be pleased to do through this body in 2011!

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The AV and emerods (hemorrhoids) in 1 Samuel 5-6

The excuse is often given that the AV is too difficult for modern folk to understand. I have found, however, that my children (ages 17 to 4) usually have little difficulty understanding the readings we do in family devotions. After each reading, I normally ask them a few questions, and they have had little problem comprehending the gist of the AV text.

Another objection sometimes raised to modern use of the AV is that its phraseology is at times embarrassing to contemporary ears. Some examples would be “ass” for “donkey” or he “that pisseth against the wall” as a colorful way of referring to males (cf. 1 Sam 25:22; 25:34; 1 Kgs 14:10; 16:11; 21:21; 2 Kgs 9:8). In defense of the AV in the latter example, it is clearly the literal rending of the Hebrew (mashtin buquir) and the Septuagint also offers a literal rendering (ourounta pros toichon).

I was reminded of another example of “blue language” in the AV when I preached last Sunday on 1 Samuel 5. This chapter records the crisis in Israel when the ark of God is taken in battle by the Philistines. While the Philistines have the ark the Lord plagues them with disease until they return the sacred object to Israel.

The AV of 1 Samuel 5:6 reads: “and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods [hemorrhoids].” Other AV uses of “emerod” appear in Deuteronomy 28:27; 1 Samuel 5:9, 12; 6:4, 5, 11, 17. Modern translations tend to render the word translated as “emerods [Hebrew: tuchorim 1 Sam 5:6]” with the less offensive word “tumors.” Thus the NKJV renders the same phrase above, “and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors.” The NKJV also adds a marginal note in v. 6 that this likely refers to the bubonic plague and that the LXX and Latin Vulgate add here, “And in the midst of their land rats sprang up, and there was a great death panic in the city.”

In 1 Samuel 5:9 we have not only an issue of vocabulary but also of text. First, the word ophalim (perhaps meaning “swellings”) appears, with the scribes providing tuchorim in the margin. It is not completely clear what is meant by these terms. More significantly, the AV renders the end of v. 9, “and they had emerods in their secret parts.” This apparently follows a Vulgate reading; whereas, the Masoretic text is reflected in modern translations like the NKJV which render the same passage, “and tumors broke out on them.” The question here is the authenticity and integrity of the text underlying the AV. Is 1 Samuel 5:9 an embarrassment to the AV or does it preserve a an authentic reading that otherwise would be lost?

With regard to the issue of English translation choices, what about the contemporary rendering of “tumor” rather than “emerod”? Does “tumor” best capture the true sense? The Hebrew is admittedly uncertain. Matthew Poole notes: “It may suffice to say that it was a very sore disease, and not only very vexatious and tormenting, but also pernicious and mortal.” Certainly if the reference is to hemorrhoids, the idea of the Lord smiting the Philistines with painful anal sores would add to the ridicule of Israel’s ancient enemy, already begun in the humiliation of their god Dagon (see 1 Sam 5:3-5). Perhaps the use of the word emerod (hemorrhoid) is the most appropriate choice since it will evoke a knowing snicker at the expense of the Philistines. The Lord embarrasses them before the nations. Public embarrassment of Israel’s enemies in private moments is not without parallel in the rest of Scripture (Compare the account in Judges 3:22-24 when servants of Eglon are reluctant to intrude on their master, thinking “he covereth his feet” when in fact he has been disemboweled by Ehud, so that “the dirt came out”; Elijah’s mocking of Baal as being indisposed in 1 Kings 18:27; and even David’s cutting off the edge of Saul’s “skirt” when he goes into a cave “to cover his feet” in 1 Samuel 24:3-4.). In this sense, perhaps “emerod (hemorrhoid)” is a better English word to use here precisely because of its appropriately embarrassing connotations.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Geneva Reformed Seminary offers special course on 400th anniversary of KJV

Geneva Reformed Seminary--the theological school of the Free Presbyterian Church--will be offering a special course January 17-February 21 titled, "400th Anniversary Celebration:  The KJV--Its Tradition, Text, Translation."   in Greenville, SC for only a $50 fee.  Dr. Michael Barrett and Dr. Charles Barrett will be the co-teachers.  I'd love to sit in on the class if I were close enough.  Hopefully the lectures will end up on sermonaudio.

The course description:

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version. Without controversy for most of those years, this Authorized Version has been the Bible of the English-speaking Protestant church. Although not on the Mayflower as the version of choice, it soon became the Bible that accompanied the advance of the church throughout the English-speaking world, and God has blessed its use for generations to the good of the church.

In recent years, however, the King James Version has generated controversy, and its use or nonuse has become a divisive issue within the church. With a plethora of more modern versions available, some mark the KJV as a relic that after 400 years has become too old to relate to the current generation. Others have elevated the KJV to such a position that essentially limits the preservation of God's Word to its pages. Unfortunately, many defenders of the KJV employ arguments loaded with emotionally charged rhetoric that is factually misleading and often wrong. This kind of rhetoric does more harm than good to the case for maintaining the use of the KJV. These kinds of arguments may appeal to some who want easy answers but are unacceptable to those who are aware of the facts and are looking for reasonable explanations.

In this seminar marking the 400th anniversary of the KJV, we will consider the tradition linked to the AV, the text from which it is translated, and the techniques used in translating that text.  There are sound reasons for maintaining the use of the KJB notwithstanding its age and all the alternatives.


Friday, January 07, 2011

Andrew Webb: Ten Spiritual Suggestions for the New Year

We're just getting back in town after a wonderful week of vacation in Florida.  We were walking around the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine yesterday in c. 70 degree weather (and the locals say they're having a cool winter!) and then drove through a snow flurry coming back into North Garden late this afternoon.

A friend passed on this post from Pastor Andrew Webb's Building Old School Churches blog on "Ten Suggestions to Help You Grow in Grace and Knowledge in the New Year."  Here's a summary:

1.  Read your Bible before you read your email, log on to Face Book, turn on the radio, etc.

2.  Start attending the church events you normally miss

3.  Begin and stick to a pattern of daily family worship

4.  Start reading systematically through the Bible

5.  Read at least two Christian biographies this year

6.  Start keeping a prayer log

7.  Start meeting for fellowship and accountability with other Christians

8.  Begin reading about and praying for the persecuted church

9.  Start praying that the Lord would give you opportunties to share your faith with others

10.  Don't do anything you couldn't ask the Lord to bless in prayer!


The Vision (1/6/11): Looking Back on 2010 with Thanksgiving

Image:  Conversation with David Murray at the 2010 Keach Conference

“Thus far the LORD has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12)

In one of our family devotions just before New Year’s Day, we were discussing our highlights from 2010. Hannah noted that she had gotten her driver’s license, began a part-time job, and started taking college classes. We thought maybe she would win the family award for biggest accomplishments in the past year. Then, on Isaiah’s turn, we remembered that in 2010 he had both learned to how swim and how to read. That was hard to top! Everyone in our household definitely agreed that one of the chief highlights of last year was our involvement in the planting of Christ Reformed Baptist Church.

Here are a few significant CRBC milestones from last year:

January 3:  First Lord’s Day meeting at the Riddles’ home

January 10:  Moved Lord’s Day meetings to the North Garden Fire House

February 21:  Moved Lord’s Day meetings to 1410 Incarnation Drive

March 29:  Trinity hymnals donated by Lloyd Sprinkle and Providence BC

May 24:  Funeral service for Bill LaGrange

June 21-25:  First Vacation Bible School on “The Life of Daniel”

July 11:  Daniel Houseworth returns to CRBC from Afghanistan

August 8:  First baptismal service at Rivanna River with six candidates

September:  Began Tuesday morning homeschool cooperative

September 24-25:  Hosted Keach Conference with over 90 participants

September 26:  CRBC Covenant Service. CRBC particularizes with 24 members

October 29:  Reformation Weekend Trip to Tinkling Spring

November:  Nominations taken for church officers

The list above is certainly not exhaustive. In next week’s Vision, we will look forward to some prospects and goals for 2011.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2010

Image:  View from a shelf in Lloyd Sprinkle's library which I visited this past year (see post)

Top ten books read in 2010 (in no particular order; you might also note that none of the books I read in full last year were even printed in 2010; compare lists from 2008 and 2009):

1. William Still, Dying to Live (Christian Focus, 1991). I was encouraged by reading this autobiography of the Scottish Pastor who was influential in reviving the method of systematic expositional preaching through books of the Bible. I also read his book The Work of the Pastor (Christian Focus, 1984, 2001). See my blog post here.

2. Keith Mathison, Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin’s Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper (P & R, 2002). This book challenged my “Zwinglian” views of the Lord’s Supper. See my blog post here. Though I did not agree with everything—like Mathison’s openness toward infant communion—this book (along with Calvin’s commentary on Acts 2:42; 20:7) did push me to reconsider the issue of frequency. We host the Lord’s Supper every Sunday at CRBC.

3. Thomas Watson, The Ten Commandments (original 1692; Banner revised ed. 1965). Brilliant exposition of the moral law of God. I read Watson’s commentary as I preached a Lord’s Day afternoon series at CRBC through the Ten Commandments. Watson is a master communicator and practitioner of “plain preaching” (using simple language and timeless illustrations to communicate truth). Spurgeon called him a “racy writer.” Nearly every paragraph has a quotable quote. If you want to read the Puritans, it is probably best to begin with Watson rather than John Owen. Watson became my “Puritan of the Year” (see below for other Watson books read in 2010).

4. Boon Sing Poh, The Keys of the Kingdom: A Study on the Biblical Form of Church Government (Good News Enterprises, 1995; revised ed. 2000). Groundbreaking work on ecclesiology from a Malaysian Reformed Baptist pioneer who has suffered persecution (including imprisonment) in his homeland for Christ. Poh puts forward a persuasive Biblical and historical-theological argument for an “Independent” form of Baptist church government including officer roles for the minister, ruling elders, and deacons. As I read this book, I kept thinking, “Wow, this man is saying so many of the things that I have intuitively come to see through Scripture study on the doctrine of ecclesiology.” This book was particularly helpful in planting a new church and writing its founding documents. CRBC’s ecclesiology reflects much I learned from Poh. I also read the critique of Poh by Samuel Waldron, et al in In Defense of Parity (Truth for Eternity Ministries, 1997) and Poh’s online rejoinders in his “Gospel Highway” magazine.

5. James M. Renihan, Edification and Beauty: The Practical Ecclesiology of the English Particular Baptists, 1675-1705 (Paternoster, 2008). A reprint of Renihan’s dissertation. This is an excellent historical-theological study of the early English Particular Baptists. If anyone doubts whether it is appropriate for Baptists to be called “Reformed,” he should read this book. Note: Renihan offers significant interaction with Poh (cited above). Though not in full agreement with Poh, he verifies the influence of Independency on Particular Baptists (e.g., the use by some early Baptists of the office of “Ruling Elder”).  Read a full review in the November 2010 issue of the RBT here.

6. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Simon and Shuster, 1960). I had always wanted to read this massive and detailed account (1245 pp.) of Hitler’s Germany. Long homebound periods of winter snow provided the opportunity. What an illustration—as if we needed more evidence—of man’s depravity and his capacity for inhumanity to his fellow man.

7. Virgil, The Aeneid (verse translation by Allen Mandelbaum, Bantam, 1961). Arma virumque cano…. Over two years ago, I started reading a few pages of the classic epic poem on the mythical founding of ancient Rome to the children over lunch on Fridays (after we spent the morning doing Latin and Greek). We finally finished it up this Fall. Though the kids moaned and groaned at times, we were all gripped by the final struggle between Aeneas and Turnus which ends, “Relentless, he sinks his sword into the chest of Turnus. His limbs fell slack with chill; and with a moan his life, resentful, fled to Shades below.” It also gave us plenty of opportunities to compare and contrast the pagan and Christian views of life.

8. Robert L. Dabney, Discussions: Evangelical and Theological, Volume I (original 1890; Sprinkle reprint, 1982). I must admit that I still have a few more articles to read before I can say I have read the book from cover to cover, but readings from this volume brought great enjoyment and edification in 2010. If Piper can claim Edwards as his “life theologian” I am tempted to pursue Dabney. What a mind! His “The Influence of the German University System on Theological Literature” is a devastating critique of the historical-critical method. “The Christian Sabbath: Its Nature, Design, and Proper Observance” is a forceful argument for the abiding validity of the fourth commandment on the Christian conscience, and “The Doctrinal Various Readings of the New Testament Greek” along with his review “The Revised Version of the New Testament” provides a winsome defense of the traditional text of the Bible. I have already purchased volume 2 from Sprinkle and hope to begin it in 2011.

9. John Bunyan, The Holy War (original 1682, Baker reprint 1977). Though overshadowed by Pilgrim’s Progress, Bunyan’s “other” allegory richly rewards the reader who discovers it. Bunyan tells the story of how Prince Emmanuel frees “the famous town of Mansoul” from the tyranny of Diabolus and his henchmen.

10. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography: Volume 2: The Full Harvest (Banner revised ed. 1973). Though not a true “autobiography,” since it was compiled by Spurgeon’s wife and secretary after his death, this book is a gem. I read the first volume in 2009 and followed up with the second this year (the Banner two volume edition is an abridgement; the full four volume original can still be attained from Pilgrim’s Press). This book is a compelling look at the life of this pulpit giant. It is a treasure trove for Spurgeon quotations and anecdotes (which I made use of in this blog throughout the year and in The Reformed Baptist Trumpet, and you’ll likely see more in 2011!).

Other books read in 2010 and honorable mentions:

Thomas Watson: All Things For Good (first published in 1663 as “A Divine Cordial”; Banner ed. 1996); The Lord’s Supper (original 1665; Banner ed. 2004); The Lord’s Prayer (original 1692; Banner ed. 1965).

Other Puritan authors: Mathew Mead, The Almost Discovered Christian (original 1661; SDG ed. 1993); Thomas Boston, The Art of Man-Fishing (Old Paths, n.d.) [see blog post].

Worship: Malcolm Watts and David Silversides, The Worship of God (Marpet Press, 1998); D. G. Hart and John R. Muether, With Reverence and Awe: Returning to the Basics of Reformed Worship (P & R, 2002); David J. Engelsma, et al, Reformed Worship (Reformed Free Publishing Association, 2004).

Biblical studies: Terry A. Chrisope, Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915 (Christian Focus, 2000); D. Edmund Hiebert, 1 Peter (BMH, 1984, 1992); Alan J. MacGregor, Three Modern Versions: A Critical Assessment of the NIV, ESV, and NKJV (The Bible League, 2004); Michael Bentley, Living for Christ in a Pagan World: 1 & 2 Peter Simply Explained (Evangelical Press, 1990); Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Broadman & Holman, 2003) [on Petrine commentaries, see my blog post].

Systematic Theology: In 2010 I completed a re-read of John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Volume I (Westminster John Know, 1960).

Biography and Church History: Frances Bevan, The Life of William Farel (Bible Truth, 1975); Scott and Kimberly Hahn, Rome Sweet Rome: Our Journey to Catholicism (Ignatius, 1993); Eric H. Sigmund, From Harvard to Hell and Back (Scribe, 2001); Nathan Hatch, The Democratization of American Christianity (Yale, 1989) [see blog post]; Iain Murray, The Old Evangelicalism: Old Truths for a New Awakening (Banner, 2005); Hannah Rosin, God’s Harvard: A Christian College on a Mission to Save America (Harcourt, 2007) [see blog post].

Children’s devotional books: John Tallach, God Made Them Great (Banner, 1974); Idem., They Shall Be Mine (Banner, 1981).

Preaching and Ministry topics: Horatius Bonar, Words to Winners of Souls (original 1860, P & R ed., 1995); Idem., The Sin Bearer (Pietan Publications, 2005); E. S. Williams, The Dark Side of Christian Counseling (Wakeman Trust, 2009) [see blog post]; “Stuff” No One Told Me About Church Planting (unpublished manuscript, n. d.).

Notable booklets, tracts, and pamphlets: By Robert G. Spinney and published by TULIP Press: Peeking Into the Devil’s Playbook: Satan’s Strategies for Tempting Christians to Sin (2000); Looking for God in All the Wrong Places: An Appeal for Word-Based Corporate Worship (2006); Did God Create Sports Also? Thinking Christianly About Sports (2006); Monkeying Around with Dangerous Ideas: Four Reasons Outside the Field of Science Why Christians Should Reject Evolutionary Theory (2006); Are You Legalistic? Grace, Obedience, and Antinomianism (2007); A. W. Pink, The Ten Commandments (1941; Chapel Library ed.); Marguerite Couturier Steedman, A Short History of the French Protestant Huguenot Church of Charleston, South Carolina (Lectour Ltd., 1970); John Thackway, Worldliness (Bible League Trust, 2004); Words of Truth # 1: Maurice Roberts, “The Higher Critical Movement” and John Thackway, “Reopening the Wells” (Bible League Trust, n. d.).