June 2024

O Come, Let Us Worship

O Come, Let Us Worship: Corporate Worship in the Evangelical Church, by Robert G. Rayburn★★★★★

The author of this text was the founding president of Covenant Seminary, and a leading person in the formation of the denomination that I currently am a member of. He is also the father of my past pastor for about 25 years. Rayburn’s son seems to have followed almost completely the advice his father gave to many young seminarians going out to serve in PCA churches throughout the world. Though the book was primarily intended for pastors, the author notes that all readers would find value in the advice given. I agree.

Rayburn first emphasizes the importance of corporate worship, in that it should be the high point in a person’s week, where worship to the Almighty God is done in a corporate fashion with fellow believers. In order to establish a Biblical theology for worship, Rayburn first examines how worship was performed in the Old Testament, and then the New Testament. To my surprise, there is a wealth of information in Scripture on how God expects to be worshipped. Rayburn discusses the theology of what true worship comprises, as the Scripture is not silent to this. Though Rayburn never mentions the regulative principle of worship as was common among early Scottish Presbyterians, he is quick to note that Scripture has much to offer in the manner in which we worship. A number of chapters discuss the order in which worship should be performed, as well as advice as to how the pastor can most effectively draw his parishoniers into true worship of God. Rayburn devotes a full and lengthy review of church music and the hymns that we sing. He is NOT a strict Psalm-only advocate, and notes the value of various hymns from both the German liturgy, as well as that of Isaac Watts, the Wesleys, and a bevy of other English hymn writers from the past. The author then discusses the rituals of the sacraments and their most effective administration, without engaging in controversies that might be raised about the sacraments. Most notable is his view against the Zwinglian notion of the sacraments being simply symbolic, to the Reformed notion that they are a means of grace, a true sign and seal of the covenant, and thus vital for every believer. The book ends with the discussion of proper conduct of weddings and funerals.

I found this text most interesting, in that it was this type of service which was dutifully administered by his son (Robert S. Rayburn) which in part attracted me to the Reformed faith and Presbyterian worship. It is also totally and completely absent from the worship service that I now experience in another PCA church. The adjustments in worship style are for me most challenging to adjust to. Even when we attended Moody Church and our Amish-Mennonite church in Portland, Oregon, the worship had a much more meaningful and worshipful approach, with meaningful hymns and a liturgy that gave honor and dignity to the Almighty God of heaven. It is odd that though many members and elders in our current church have a deep respect for RC Sproul, his Sunday worship seemed to follow the principles of Rayburn to a “t”; why do they not see that?

I have written previously how contemporary worship is an insult and dishonoring to God. It is an entertaining performance meant to attract people to church, while losing God in the process of doing that. The praise ditties are practically meaningless, though sentimentality with the singing of these tunes can evoke a sense of contentless worship to a contentless God. Occasionally, hymns are used, but then the traditional tunes are changed to an upbeat hip-hop melody that attracts more to the music rather than to the words of the hymn. If only more pastors would be attentive to the advice of Rayburn in selecting hymns that support either the sermon or the moment in worship (confession, the sacrament, etc.) that is occurring. Without a true focus and true worship of a true God, church meetings degenerate into nothing more than a delightful social club gathering. The focus is on the self (“I” just want to praise you, “I” lift up your name, I, I, I…). The purpose of the church has switched from the worship of God to the marketing of the Almighty.

I don’t think my wife and I will be able to influence the present church that we attend sufficiently to give it a worshipful service. I feel like David in Psalm 42, as he recalls his past “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival.” and then his present sentiment; “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” There is hope, hopefully for my wife and I on this side of glory.

Bombs Away

Bombs Away: Fifty Old, Often Bad, and Mostly Forgotten Films, in No Particular Order, by John Vetto ★★★★★

This book is a totally first-class review of some very bad films, hopefully, rendered to the dustbin of history. J. Vetto is correct in asserting a particular value to these films, as they show a Hollywood and Americana scene of a bygone age, an age where Wokeness and political correctness were unheard-of terms, and where a general sense of public decency and morality prevailed. All fifty of these films, though some are exceedingly bad, are better than any of the rubbish cranked out nowadays from the cesspool of Hollywood.

I first met John in college, and we attended medical school together. Both of us eventually became surgical oncologists. During the first year and a half of medical school, John lived immediately above me (and eventually my wife) on Pill Hill in Portland, Oregon. As a token relief from the pressures of study, John and I (as well as some of John’s siblings and my new wife Betsy) would run downtown to a movie house on Broadway where we would watch old films. Since my wife and I grew up in an Amish-type setting, movies were somewhat foreign to us. Together, John introduced us to It’s a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, the Thin Man series, North by Northwest, and many other films.

This book represents a practically encyclopedic review of fifty old and mostly forgotten films. They are not films that I would have any desire to see, as life is short and there still remain many old films of value worth watching at least once, if not a few times more. The value of this book is how it recalls the motivations and forces that drove the filming of B-movies (as well as a few A-movies that bombed). John’s knowledge of the actors, directors, and cameramen that made these films is outstanding. I’m not sure how he remembers such a vast compendium of movie trivia, while also remembering all of the latest-greatest studies and papers published in surgical oncology.

John has a particularly compelling writing style, throwing in personal vignettes and humorous anecdotes while recalling the movie plot and significant events of these films. Any old movie lover would find this book to be a real gem. Maybe John’s next book should be Gone Nuclear, where he reviews 50 of the greatest films of old times.

Reformed is Not Enough

“Reformed” Is Not Enough”-Recovering the Objectivity of the Covenant, by Douglas Wilson★★★★

This book was written in 2002 during the inception of the so-called Federal Vision (FV) controversy. I’ve read books that allegedly refute the FV heresy, yet have failed to grasp exactly the core issue(s) at stake. Back then, my overwhelming problem was in grasping for a precise definition of FV, something that Wikipedia does not help with. Neither did I get help from the various books responding to the FV “heresy”, as even they noted that the FV movement is diverse and heterogeneous. Worse, the person who has written the most in defense of the FV movement, Douglas Wilson (and author of this book), now claims he is not a Federal Visionist. When a person focuses on movements rather than issues, problems will arise. It would be like refuting a Jehovah’s Witness while ignoring their Arianism. One particular text, Christ and Covenant Theology by Cornelis Venema, mentioned this book by Wilson frequently when refuting the Federal Vision concept of the covenant. In my recent review of Venema’s book, I suggested no interest in exploring the FV issue further. Yet, cold shoulders at church and mentions over the pulpit of the need to attack the FV heresy piqued my curiosity to no end. Curiosity did kill the cat, you know!

I had other reasons for not wishing to read this book, mostly related to the person of Douglas Wilson. I have nothing against Dougie, and there is a lot about him that I like. His fervency for the Lord cannot go unnoticed. His desire for a truly Reformed belief system is admirable. His willingness to stick his neck out against authorities is praiseworthy, especially his unwillingness to shut down his church during the so-called Covid “crisis”. Yet, I believe that Dougie spent too many hours down under riding in a (yellow?) submarine during his Navy years. Doug has a veneer of haughtiness and rough edges that are grating. Doug is most arrogant about matters of theology that can be questioned, not from a heretical standpoint so much as from a point of simple differences in interpretive position, such as his views on eschatology (post-millennialism) and theonomy (offering flashbacks to the Reconstructionist period of the 1990s). Doug’s viewpoints often fluctuate over the years, as his views on race and slavery in antebellum America, and his stated adherence to the FV movement. I get a sense from his videos that any and every theological controversy is best resolved with a debate or argument. Some of his publications are so bad as to deserve negative stars, such as his commentary on Revelation, and his book on how to exasperate your wife, or his books on raising so-called “real” men. So, bluntly stated, I am NOT a Dougie Wilson fan. Still, I needed to pinpoint straight from the horse’s mouth exactly what heretical statements Dougie was making. This book was read with an extremely critical spirit, rooting through each page as a pig roots through the mud.

To my joy (dismay?), I found little in this book to take issue with, especially regarding the main themes of the book. It was well-written, Dougie’s attempts at humor were more subdued, and Dougie followed a logical, though not comprehensive argument. It was all consistent with what I’ve learned from my reading of the Puritans, and from the most influential contemporary Divines that have graced my life, including John Gerstner, JI Packer, and especially my old pastor Rob Rayburn. FV was never (or perhaps, rarely ever?) mentioned in this book. Doug focused on issues at stake. I am left deeply perplexed as to how the PCA could possibly bring charges of heresy against the so-called Federal Vision movement if this book is representative of FV theology. I am even more perplexed as to why so many theologians of the Ivory Tower would take issue with the claims of this book, especially regarding the assertion that FV denies the doctrine of sola fide or the doctrine of the imputation of Christ’s righteousness. All that I can determine at this point is that some of the elitist Ivory Tower theologians have had their dander ruffled by a rough-and-tough, crude submarine-ist turned theologian. The arguments result in ad hominem vindictives rather than substantive rebuttals. I have a sense that if the two Johnnies (Calvin and Knox), most of the Puritan Divines, and any 19th-century Reformed scholar were to visit today’s Reformed scene, they wouldn’t recognize it as Reformed. If I’m not mistaken, Dougie’s entire intention in this book is to return us to a Reformed cultus as found in the Christians of yesteryear.

The book has four parts. The first details thoughts on the nature and extent of the Covenant of God with his creatures. It does not wrangle over the issue of the “covenant of works”. The second part focuses on the sacraments and the significance of those sacraments. Wilson refutes the action of “magic” in the sacraments, and yet affirms that there is an objective reality, being true signs and seals of the covenant, which occurs as we partake in the sacraments. Partaking of the bread and wine is far more than a means that God uses to help jog your memory that Christ died on the cross for your sins. The third is a necessary focus on a problem area for Reformed theologians, that of the apostate. Covered in this second are not only the apostates, but those who would be deemed to be a part of the covenant community through baptism, yet never show signs of true faith. The fourth part contends with the faith/works issue. I recall RC Sproul exegeting the book of James as being in the wisdom genre rather than the theology genre. Even a short reflection will demonstrate this to be eisegesis rather than exegesis. The “James-ian” notion that works saves a person from the world’s perspective but that “Romans-style” salvation is in God’s eyes is total nonsense and inconsistent with so many other passages of Scripture. This is an example where the explanation of the ex-submarine-ist Dougie transcends that of the Ivory Tower-ist Robbie (RC) Sproul. Before the concluding chapter, Wilson includes a chapter on covenantal succession, a doctrine that is sadly too often ignored or rebutted.

FV type issues were not mentioned. Wilson notes his belief in the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, but doesn’t explore the uses and abuses of that doctrine. Wilson speaks much about paedobaptism, but almost nothing about paedocommunion, which is a strange trigger point for the anti-FVists. What do they suppose will happen? When a neonate or newborn (freshly baptised, of course) comes forward for their communion experience, they will be offered pureed bread and wine, applied to the baby bottle nipple or to the mother’s teats? I’m neither for or against paedocommunion, as there is insufficient data from either the Old or New Testament to argue one way or another. Any age determination for first communion is fraught with problems as Scripture is entire silent on the topic. So, how can paedocommunion possibly be grounds for heresy? Equally ridiculous is the suggestion of administration of the host to a newborn… don’t the Reformed scholars have anything better to argue about?

Summary: 1. I have not become a Federal Visionist. How can I be if I can’t have a well-formed definition of what it is? 2. If this book represents the sum total of Federal Vision thinking, then the heretic hunters have some serious explaining to do. 3. Wilson provides a beautiful reply to the Sola-fide-ists about the nature of “works”. 4. I commend Wilson for a well-written text.

Ante Nicene Fathers Volume 3

Ante Nicene Fathers Volume 3: Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian, Philip Schaff General Editor ★★★★★

It has been a little over a year since I published the review of volume 2 in this series. The folk who scanned and digitized these volumes did an excellent job of maintaining all of the quality, as well as the references as found in the print edition of this book. I am reading this on my iPad mini.

This volume consists entirely of Tertullian’s works. Tertullian was a Latin saint, but is a touch controversial, in that in later years, was a separatist in the Montanist camp. Thus, he is not regarded as a “saint” by the Roman church. Tertullian is frequently quoted (e.g., the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church), and wrote frequently in defense of the faith as well as on morals and practice in the church.

The lengthiest part of this volume is his writings against heretics, especially his 5 book series against Marcion. Such is relevant for today, as there is a strong Marcionizing tendency within the theology of the Christian church. Many other works are included, such as his defense for a resurrection of the body. The last portion is the discussion of various topics, including repentance, prayer, patience, and baptism. A jewel in this set includes a biography probably edited and not written by Tertullian on the martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicia.

This volume was a gem, and most informative of the thinking of Christians in the early centuries of the church. Tertullians’ works extend into volume 4, but I will be taking a break from the Ante-Nicene Fathers and jumping ahead to the Nicene and post-Nicene fathers, namely, reading the works of Augustine and Chrysostom.

The Farm At the Center Of the Universe

The Farm At the Center Of the Universe, by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jonathan Witt ★★★★★

This book was sent to me by the Discovery Institute, and is fictional story of a young boy Isaac who just lost his father to cancer, and had gone out to his grandfather’s farm to recover. Grandfather is a retired scientist who takes Isaac out into nature and discusses with him the wonders of creation from an intelligent design perspective. Isaac is brought to the farm by Charlie, who acts as the antagonist, as Charlie is a school teacher who teaches the mainline Darwinistic arguments.

The book is very clever at introducing kids (roughly high school age) to arguments of the intelligent design movement. The book is quite easy to read, and presents science in an understandable fashion for teenagers. It’s a book that I wish I could have had as a kid. Hopefully, the Discovery Institute is able to produce more of this type of book.

The Whole Christ Part 2

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson (part 2—an addendum)

More Reflections on The Whole Christ

The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson is the object of an every other Saturday men’s group that meets at church. This is a good book and addresses some of the issues that churches struggle with in dealing with either legalism or antinomianism.  Even still, there are incomplete issues that Ferguson leaves standing, which unfortunately can lead to conclusions that are extra-biblical and thus unwarranted. Let’s begin…

Whole Christ vs whole counsel of God?

A favorite phrase of one of my favorite theologians, John Gerstner, is “the whole counsel of God”. What is meant by this is that every jot and tittle of Scripture must be taken into account when organizing a theological statement. Theologians of the past were particularly keen on this issue, though it makes for very laborious reading of their theological writings. Just think of John Owen, who is practically uninterpretable in today’s world. John Owen forced himself to follow a very logical sequence of thinking that left no stone unturned. I am currently reading through the works of Tertullian, a third century saint. Yet, even in the Patristic era, the church fathers like Tertullian painstakingly worked through the entirety of Scripture in arguing against heresies. When Scripture seemed to conflict, they offered explanations rather than ignoring some texts that didn’t seem to fit. The Westminster Divines also assiduously held to the principle of the whole counsel of God. 

How does this affect our theological outcomes?. A whole Christ is by necessity a testimony that all of Scripture, OT and NT, are witness to Christ, and thus the whole counsel of God would be equivalent to speaking of a totus Christus, a “whole” Christ, or a tota Scriptura. I discussed in my main review of this text the impossibility of dividing the actions of Christ from the person of Christ. In other words, you either have the “whole” Christ or no Christ at all. Thus, I’m puzzled as to why Ferguson would make this the title of his book.

Tim Keller writes the Foreword?

Tim Keller held to a number of heresies. I don’t hold him to be condemned to hell, and will certainly see him in heaven. Yet, his belief in a number of issues have done great harm to the cause of Christianity, for which he will need to be accountable. The web site Jude 3 PCA (https://jude3pca.org/) has a whole section on Keller, how he was willing to compromise on social justice, on a non-offensive “gospel”, on homosexuality, and most importantly, his highly public stance in support of the troubling heresy of theistic evolution. I won’t belabor the problems of theistic evolution, but you ultimately have a Deistic god who stands back while random Darwinian events take their course to develop mankind, and then are left with a population of about 10K-100K humans (humanoids) for which Adam served as their representative agent. Theologically, this is beyond troubling to me. I realize that Keller and Ferguson both worked at Westminster East Seminary together, and probably were close friends until Keller’s death. Ferguson’s choice of Keller to write the foreword for such a sobering topic as found in this book was a grave mistake. Oddly, on the Jude 3 website, refutations to Tim Keller’s position on many issues are given by Sinclair Ferguson!

Does this book truly answer the tension between antinomianism vs. legalism? 

Both antinomianism and legalism are misuses of the law. Ferguson is correct in identifying that the solution is not to find a middle ground, where you have some law, but not so much law that you become a legalist, or to replace law with the “guidance of the spirit”. You will NEVER find a proper balance because any balance or replacement is an abuse of the “law”. The moral law describes holiness, and holiness is exactly what God is! Thus, the moral law describes an ontological character of God; law is an aspect of His very being. The big question remains; what is the purpose of the moral law in regard to the Christian? Let me explore that question by means of a diversion.

We are accustomed to speaking of the ordo salutis. Looking at the portions of the ordo salutis that are monergistic vs synergistic, we see the following…

predestination – monergistic (God alone does it)

election – monergistic (God alone does it)

calling – monergistic (God alone does it)

regeneration – monergistic (God alone does it)

faith – monergistic (God alone does it)

repentance – synergistic (God and us are involved; the law convicts and “brings” us to Christ, though it is also a work of God)

justification – monergistic (God alone does it)

adoption – monergistic (God alone does it)

union with Christ – monergistic (God alone does it)

sanctification – synergistic (there is involvement on both ours and God’s part)

perseverance – monergistic (God alone does it), though it could be argued to be synergistic

glorification – monergistic (God alone does it)

Thus, repentance is a synergistic action, fulfilling what is called the first use of the law. In agreement with John Calvin in the Institutes, repentance is a daily, lifetime activity, and thus should have no special position in the ordo salutis. Sanctification is also synergistic. To quote Berkhof “It (sanctification) is essentially a work of God, though in so far as He employs means, man can and is expected to co-operate by the proper use of those means”. One of those means is in ordering one’s life according to holiness, and, holiness is not a vague notion, but a manner of behavior as described by the law of God. It is too easy for modern theologians to confuse one’s talk about sanctification, which is a synergistic activity, with justification, which is a monergistic activity. 

Ferguson’s thesis is that our union with Christ resolves the antinomian/legalist tension. I don’t follow his logic. Everything that is done for us in a monergistic fashion, especially that of justification, resolves the antinomian/legalistic tension. If Ferguson had chosen anything else, he would have been safer choosing adoption. Adoption is something done for us and cannot be undone. We play no part in it. Yet, as a family member, we are told of the rules of the family. The rules are just another way of speaking of God’s law. We obey God’s law because we want to please the Father, out of gratefulness to Him. We also obey God’s law because we are ordered to do so by our Father in heaven. Only muddled thinking will imply that we are using the law to save ourselves. The confused mind may conclude that because we are commanded to obey God, we are diminishing the doctrines of sola fide and sola gratia. 

Ferguson presents union with Christ as the solution for negotiating the wiles of the law or lack of it. It is almost as though “union” is a talisman or magic solution for resolving the issue of law. It reminds me of the follies of my youth when the solution for engaging in the higher and sin-free life was to be “filled” with the Spirit in a very Pentecostal sense of the word. Truth be told, there is no magic solution for spirituality, and it will always be a struggle. There is danger in omitting the use of the law in ordering our walk with God. If sanctification is deemed to not be a synergistic activity of God and man, the result is Quietism (“let go and let God”) and an antinomianism that is repulsive to God. Union with Christ stresses a mongergistic action in being a Christian, but the synergistic action as found in repentance and sanctification emphasizes the need for personal choices and struggles to be holy.

I recall being at a Ligonier Conference in Dallas, TX in the mid-1990s, and two speakers followed in succession. The first was Chuck Colson, who gave a very moving talk about doing right even when it is costly and difficult. John Piper followed, refuting everything that Colson said, and insisted that as Christian hedonists, we will always have joy and delight in serving God, and that Colson needed to essentially “chill out”. RC Sproul got the last word in, claiming that both were correct. Sproul seemed quite embarrassed by the Colson-Piper interchange and sought a political resolution rather than speaking Scripture. I’ve never had a serious regard for John Piper after that event. The story reflects that there are those theologians that try to resolve the legalism problem by forming, as John Piper has done, a modified form of antinomianism that uses the gloss of defending the doctrines of sola fide and sola gratia. I’m not fooled.

Assurance?

Assurance is a major topic in the later chapters of this book. Sadly, there is no sure-fire means of providing assurance to the godly person who is trusting in Christ, and yet doubting his salvation. There are churches where assurance is considered not possible. The Roman Catholic Church is a prime example. The Netherlands Reformed Church, from which Joel Beeke was expelled as a “heretic” is another. Our baptism is a definite assurance, even though baptism does not save us. Pastors can attest that there are godly members who struggle with accepting their own personal assurance, and words and comfort fail. Even the Westminster Confession admits that at times God may be leading a person through a dark valley where one’s salvation becomes in doubt. Perhaps assurance is also a monergistic work of God? 

Redemptive-Historical (RH) exegesis and preaching- does it help in the issue of legalism?

Redemptive-historical exegesis is a manner of interpreting Scripture, especially in the Old Testament, which seeks to see Jesus in everything. While there is value to that, it seems to me to be a return to the school of Alexandria, where allegorical interpretations were held in the highest value. This is in contrast to the other main theological academy of Christendom in Antioch in the 3rd century AD, which taught grammatical-historical (GH) exegesis. Though it may sound like redemptive-historical exegesis does the most honor to Christ, it does just the opposite, by not allowing Scripture to speak for itself. The entire process is to drain Scripture of its moral and devotional elements. This can be seen in the outcome of RH preaching, where moral elements are missing. The preaching of imperatives is rendered the equivalent of preaching legalism, and thus to be avoided. Similarly with the preaching from the Old Testament, especially from Psalm 1, 19, and 119. To denigrate the preaching of the law is a evil distortion of the meaning and significance of the law, and a misinterpretation on Paul’s invective against the law. Augustine never did it. Luther never did it. Calvin never did it. The Puritans never did it. Why is it now quasi-heretical to preach law???

Several results of this are found in the RH preaching method. First, the whole counsel of God is no longer preached. Second, it makes much of the text of the OT irrelevant. Reformers taught (appropriately) that salvation was the same in the OT as in modern times. Yet, much of the OT text is moral admonitions. If OT saints were saved similarly as NT saints, why are we claiming the message is now so much different? Why is the text of much of the Psalms, the major and minor prophets, and historical books offered in terms of obedience to the moral law of God? Third, it does violence to the words and ministry of Christ while on earth. Here is a perfect example of a Biblical narrative in which RH preachers would have to perform Marcion-style slashes to the text to make it consistent with their thinking. When the rich young man (ruler) came to ask Christ how he could be saved, Jesus should have replied, “Just have faith in me”. Instead, he gave the “legalistic” reply, “Have you kept the 10 commandments?”. The man ultimately went away sad when Jesus noted that he needed to sell all that he had. Jesus then commented to the disciples as to how anybody could be saved, and noted firstly the emphasis that it is impossible to keep the law to be saved. Jesus then did a major “blunder” by commenting that “everyone that has left houses and family… will inherit eternal life”. Heavens to Mergatroyd!!!!! Jesus never grasped the new interpretive theology of modern Presbyterianism! Someone please inform Jesus in heaven of the doctrine of sola fide!!!!!! Maybe the next time Jesus comes back to earth he’ll have it right!

But, there are Scriptures that are also in my defense.

What man is there who desires life and loves many days, that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and his ears toward their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Psalm 34:12-16 and re-quoted in 1Peter 3:10-12!!!!!! (i.e., NOT legalism to say such things!)

or

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work
IITim 3:16-17

and

But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained  by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Heb 5:14

RH preaching also does violence against the entirety of Christian worship. RH preaching would make you think that when preaching for reproof, correction, or righteous training, it should be deemed legalistic because it denies the imputation of the active obedience of Christ. Horse feathers!!!!!  When  preaching is cheapened, everything is cheapened. “Church” becomes just another form of entertainment, and an appeasement for the guilt of not attending church. Music becomes contentless, and the praise ditties speak of nothing but repetitive garbage which I liken to Tibetan prayer wheels—repetitive vacuous statements to a god, powered by the blowing of the wind. Sadly, at the start of the contemporary Christian music (CCM) scene, back in the late 1960s at Calvary Chapel, the hippies would write Scripture to music; though typically not suitable for corporate worship, it was quality music. Today’s music scene lacks both significant content as well as creative tunes that match the lyrics, and depend entirely on an upbeat rhythm to stimulate the emotional sensitivities of the singer.  

All of this is the result of fear that any moral instruction will evoke a legalistic attempt to justify oneself. Protestants attack Roman Catholics with vim and vigor over their failure to properly distinguish justification from sanctification, yet Protestants are offering another form of confusion between the two. We have little ground for theological superiority. 

In conclusion, Sinclair Ferguson does good in this book by pointing out a great historical doctrinal issue in the church and how it was partially resolved by the Marrow Men. Better thought regarding doctrinal issues of law, grace, antinomianism, and legalism now need to follow. 

Post Script

I’m not a professional theologian, yet it doesn’t escape my notice that seminaries are generating much of the rubbish theology that we pew sitters have to endure. Perhaps my contemplations in this article are wrong in certain respects, and I am more than willing to be corrected by any theologian who can give a Biblical explanation for my errors. There is nothing above that I would take as personal, should someone rightly correct me. Neither am I addressing a particular congregation, even my own, as this seems to be a widespread problem in today’s churches. My rant is universal.