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u/witan- · 8 pointsr/Reformed

When you say orthodoxy I assume this is Eastern Orthodoxy.

Before getting into the problems with Eastern Orthodoxy or the most compelling evidence for Reformed theology, let’s first understand what Christianity is.

I think the best place to start is the gospels. What are your daily habits like? Maybe read the Gospel of John, or re-read it, and try to understand what the author is saying in each passage and how he brings it together and what he’s trying to tell the audience, i.e. you. (John helpfully states his purpose in John 20:31, which is why it’s a good book to read both for those exploring the Christian faith and those who need to continue believing.)

The gospels contain the words and life of Jesus, and Jesus himself reiterates throughout John how important and life-giving his words are. Take the example of Martha and Mary, where Martha was working away and complains about how Mary doesn’t help her. Jesus says Mary chose the better option, by simply sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him.

How, ultimately, are you going to settle on an answer to this? Not from Reddit answers, though they may be helpful and point you in the right direction, but from listening to Jesus himself! And Jesus’ words can be found in the gospels, and in the whole Bible. The Bible is a wonderful compilation of books written by many people over centuries for different contexts and audiences and purposes, but they all tell one unifying story of God acting through history to save his people, and all of it is God’s word. Prayer is just as vital, and we want to be asking God to help us listen to him in his word and understand him clearly, that he would change us through it and think deeply about what he’s telling us.

So I hope that introduces some foundations for our discussion. The centre of our faith is Jesus. And we’ll have greater clarity by knowing Jesus better. And how do we know Jesus better? Through his words, which we have in our Bibles.

The Reformed tradition upholds supremely the Bible as our means to hear God and know what he wants for us. I think this is absolutely right, and I think if we read the Bible itself we will get a similar impression from God of what he thinks of his Scriptures.

The Eastern Orthodox Church upholds the Scriptures, but also greatly treasures, to the point of being divinely inspired, Holy Tradition.

But how do we really know what ‘tradition’ is? Or what the right tradition is?

If there was only one Church claiming to be the original apostolic Church passed down through tradition this may help a little, but there are others. Most prominently of course is the Roman Catholic Church, which claims that Tradition and the early church fathers would actually uphold the supremacy of the Bishop of Rome, the Pope, over the rest of the bishops, and as such they are the true apostolic Church. This doesn’t even get started on all the other issues the early church fathers would disagree on.

We can easily get lost in the weeds here, and theologians and historians can argue over this forever... they’ve been doing it for centuries! How on earth are we meant to arrive at the right conclusion?

Well, let’s go back to the foundation of our discussion. Jesus. Listening to him in the Bible. What does he have to say? What does he think salvation is? Is it by trusting in him and his sacrifice on the cross for our sins, and nothing else? Are there good deeds involved to also merit our salvation? And what about all the things Orthodox Tradition introduced that have no explicit existence in Scripture? Should we pray to the saints?

I think the Bible has very clear answers. And we could go into those further if you’d like. But let’s try and clarify that the Bible is our go-to, and all traditions, including the Reformed one, can be helpful but will always be fallible and subservient to the authority of God’s very words.

I can go on and say Reformed theology has the biblical view of salvation - that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus by his grace alone, and the biblical view of God’s sovereignty, and the biblical view of how we relate to God.

But how are you going to test that? It’s easier said than done, but to keep going to the Bible and seeing what God has to say through the human authors of the text.

Some good resources (other than the Bible, and of course having no authority in themselves unlike the Bible, and should be tested by it!)

Dig Deeper by Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach

The above is a really helpful toolkit to read the Bible for ourselves. It contains a number of different ‘tools’, like the ‘context’ tool, and other tools to understand and digest a text and unearth the treasures that God has for us in them.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer

The above is an absolute classic that richly and clearly illustrates who God is and how we can know him.

God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

The above explains God’s incredible narrative throughout the entire Bible. Very helpful to understand what the Bible is all about.

u/WhomDidYouSay · 1 pointr/Reformed

Hey sorry for the delay getting back to you. I think BirdieNZ nailed it. The Law of Moses is a covenant of law but not a covenant of works. What's the difference?

The Covenant of Works (with Adam) had in view the full picture of man's relationship to God. Perfect obedience was required to maintain that relationship. If Adam obeyed perfectly then he would live and no salvation would be necessary since there would be nothing to be saved from. This is not the case with Israel receiving the Law, since:

  1. All are already fallen in Adam and in need of salvation. The perfect obedience ship already sailed. (Rom 3-5; Gal 3-5; 1 Cor 15)

  2. Israel received the Law as part of redemptive history. God's first words to Moses were "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob", pointing back to Abraham and the covenant God made with him and was continuing to keep.

  3. The order is backwards for Israel if the Law is a covenant of works: God redeemed Israel from Egyptian slavery then gave them the Law.

  4. The Law included a system of sacrifices for sins, which both (1) pre-supposes law-breaking; and (2) points forward in the COG to Christ.

  5. God had already promised grace to Abraham and his offspring, and that promise cannot be undone by the presence of the Law. Regarding this promise, Paul explains:

    > 15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. 18 For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. Gal 3:15-18

    The Covenant of Law was "a guardian" (Gal 3:24), given to national Israel to instruct them in the will of the God who redeemed them. This was never intended as a means of salvation (Rom 3-4; Gal 3).

    Here's a perfect explanation of the above from Scripture:

    > 6 For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today. Deut 7:6-11

    It's true that there are blessings and curses associated with the Law, but note the language of the blessings and curses (e.g., Deut 28). It's all about the land and the enemies around them, but never about salvation, which is conferred by Christ under the Covenant of Grace. Justification always has, and always will, come by grace through faith (Rom 4). Paul (Rom 2:29) and Moses (Deut 10:12-17) both say true "circumcision" is a matter of the heart (i.e., faith). Paul says not everyone born of Abraham had faith (Rom 9). Regardless of what happened to Israel, from Achan to Babylon, everyone with genuine faith was saved under the Covenant of Grace.

    I know I've already said it, but I'll recommend again The Christ of the Covenants. Best $12 you'll ever spend! :-)
u/davidjricardo · 28 pointsr/Reformed

Hi /u/iwillyes, I'm glad you're here! Let me start by talking a bit about what the Reformed tradition of Christianity is.

The Reformed Tradition is a branch of Protestant Christianity that developed during the Reformation in Switzerland, Scotland, France and the low countries. John Calvin was (and is) the most influential theologian in the Reformed tradition. While we share many similarities with Anglicans, Baptists and Lutherans we are usually seen as a distinct strand. We disagree on the meaning of both Baptism and the Eucharist, for example (in both regards Lutherans are closer to Catholics). Pentecostals and Anabaptist are quite different.

In terms of what makes the Reformed different from other Protestant groups, I love this quote by Cornelius Plantinga:

>>Our accents lie more on the sovereignty of God, on the authority of Scripture, on the need for disciplined holiness in personal Christian life, and finally, on Christianity as a religion of the Kingdom.

That emphasis on the sovereignty of God over all things is in my mind what most clearly distinguishes the reformed tradition. Part of that is understanding God to be sovereign in salvation - what is commonly known as the five points of Calvinism. Basically we believe that because of we are dead in our sin, man is utterly unable to do anything to save himself - even unable to turn to God. It is only through God's grace of drawing us to him that we are able to have the faith that saves us. This means that we contribute nothing to our own salvation - it is entirely a work of God.

In the U.S. there are two main groups of Reformed churches: Presbyterians (the Scottish Reformed) and the Dutch Reformed. Historically Scottish Reformed have put a bit more emphasis on personal piety (the Puritans are part of this group) while the Dutch Reformed have put slightly more emphasis on declaring the Lordship of Christ over all creation. But, we are very, very similar. The Reformed tradition is a deeply confessional one. We hold to historic documents that describe what we understand scripture to teach on a wide range of matters. The Presbyterians hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Dutch Reformed hold to the Three Forms of Unity. While different documents, the two sets of confessions essentially teach the same doctrine.

In terms of churches the large (100k+ members) Presbyterian denominations in the US are the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Presbyterian Chrurch in America. the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and ECO: A Covenant Order of Presbyterians. The PC(USA) is a more "liberal" church while the others are more "conservative" to varying degrees. The two large Dutch Reformed denominations are the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. There are also many smaller Presbyterian and Reformed denominations. Many of them are part of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council.

What complicates things a bit is that in recent years, many Christians in other traditions have started using "reformed" to mean they have a Calvinistic view of salvation, even if they don't fit into the broader reformed tradition in other ways. You will find a lot of Baptists who have a Calvinistic view of salvation, but not of the sacraments or the church, for example. This sub tends to attract both the more conservative branch of the Reformed tradition as well as those who just have a Calvinistic view of salvation.

In terms of books, my number one recommendation for you is Letters to a Young Calvinist: An Invitation to the Reformed Tradition by Jamie Smith. It's a quick easy read best digested in small parts. It does a great job of providing an overview of the Reformed tradition that is accessible, theological, and pastoral. It's aimed at those who have a 'come-to-Calvin' moment from within other theological traditions (Smith was pentecostal), but would benefit everyone.

Also read through some of the Reformed Confessions. The best place to start is with the Heidelberg Catechim and the Belgic Confession. If you want a more modern approach, I'd encourage you to also read the Christian Reformed Church's Contemporary Testimony Our World Belongs To God, too.

Other good "intro" level books:

  • Reformed: What It Means, Why It Matters by Bob DeMoor. This is more of a booklet that a full book. It'd be a great option for a newcomers class at church.

  • Deep Down Faith by Cornelius Plantinga. This one is a devotional aimed at young adults, but an excellent explanation of Reformed Faith.

  • Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul. This is the book that made me a Calvinist. Best explanation and defense of TULIP out there. Sproul's The Holiness of God is anothe excellent choice, as are all of his books.

  • Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today's World by Richard Mouw. Another book focused on TULIP. This one's goal is to show how the doctrines of Grace affect the way we live out our lives and correcting common misunderstandings about Calvinism.

    Once you feel ready for higher level stuff, I recommend:

  • Reformed Theology by Michael Allen. If you want a book that covers the breadth of Reformed Theology at a deep level than Smith or DeMoor, this is for you (think intro college level).

  • Reformed Catholicity: The Promise of Retrieval for Theology and Biblical Interpretation by Michael Allen and Scott Swain. This book is a clarion call: “to be Reformed means to go deeper into true catholicity, not to move away from catholicity.” A must read.

  • Reformed Dogmatics (Abridged) by Herman Bavink. My appreciation for Bavink grows every time I read him. This abridged version is much cheaper and more accessible than the full four volume edition.

  • Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin. This one needs no explanation. Get this one if you want to splurge for a nice reference edition, the Beveridge Translation is available for much less (and free online).
u/tbown · 3 pointsr/Reformed

I'd recommend against Barth's Church Dogmatics unless you are quite well versed in theology, and like reading long and sometimes confusing sentences.

Interested in Church Fathers?

Oden's Classical Christianity is pretty decent. It tries to break down the typical "systematic theology" headings using the early church (and some later ones). Not perfect, but there isn't one I've read yet that beats it.

Augustine's Confessions is a must if you haven't read it yet. Its autobiographical yet very spiritual and insightful at the same time.

Chrysostom's On the Priesthood is a great writing that can apply to anyone, not just those seeking ordination.

Athanasius' On the Incarnation focuses on the person of Christ, and what it meant for God to become man.

Basil's On the Holy Spirit is a great exposition on not just how the Holy Spirit is argued to be part of the Trinity, but also Christ. Very great reading for people questioning it or curious about it.

Reformation Fathers?

Peter Martyr Vermigli's Predestination and Justification is great. John Calvin in a letter said Vermigli had a better understanding of Predestination than he did, which is funny since Calvin is known for predestination today.

Martin Luther's Theological Works has most of his important works, including Bondage of the Will.

Richard Muller's Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vol. but try not to pay $325 for it. Its out of print so might be a bit hard to find for a reasonable price. If you are able to find it though, it's a gold mine. Also check out other of his books.

More contemporary?

Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvinism is a classic on the Reformed faith.

Herman Bavinck's Abridged Reformed Dogmatics is great, and in my opinion one of the best Systematic Theologies available. More of a Dutch Reformed than Presby bent, but essentially the same.

Karl Barth's Dogmatics in Outline is a very abridged version of Church Dogmatics, and would recommend it over the original source unless you have a lot of free time or want to be a Barth scholar.

Thats what I can think of off the top of my head. If you have other specific ones I can find other stuff.

u/FenderPriest · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I'm sure you'll get sarcastic remarks about "just read the Bible" (which, as a Reformed Baptist [charismatic] I'd agree with) but I think you're looking for solid theological interactions on the issue. In some ways, I think these are good starter books for not only the issue at hand (baptism) but also how it fits within the larger theological vision of the Christian life and community. Baptism is one of those issues that, for being seemingly simple, reveals a great deal about how one understands the nature of faith, the entire Christian life, and the nature of the Gospel itself. Just taking a guess, but I assume you're approaching it from the sobriety that the issue deserves given your reading thus far, so I commend you for looking for further resources on the topic and continuing to read!

Here are a few that are good starters, and for more reading, I'd look to their bibliographies and footnotes.

Believer's Baptism - This is a good resource. There are a few points here or there where I'd disagree with various articles. I'd want to emphasize different aspects here or there, but especially at points where the covenants (Covenant Theology v. New Covenant Theology) becomes the issue. So, good starter, and the basic presentation of a thoughtful credo-baptist view.

The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology - Taking up that point of covenant theology, this is a very thorough book on how the covenants play within a Reformed Baptist view of baptism. Very good.

Covenant Theology: A Reformed and Baptistic Perspective on God's Covenants

Covenant Theology: A Reformed Baptist Primer

The Confessing Baptist - This is a website and podcast. A good resource for articles and podcasts on various issues related to Reformed Baptists.

If you're looking for one book, I'd go with Believer's Baptism, and supplement with materials available at The Confessing Baptist website. That'll get your versed in the logic of the credo-baptist position, and hopefully provide some good things to mull over.

Hope that helps!

u/another_dude_01 · 3 pointsr/Reformed

The institutes are surprisingly very readable. I read that somewhere in a couple places, and my experience reading them bears out this truth. Try out this article, note this:

>1. The Institutes may be easier to read than you think.
J. I. Packer writes, “The readability of the Institutio, considering its size, is remarkable.”
Level of difficulty should not determine a book’s importance; some simple books are profound; some difficult books are simply muddled. What we want are books that make us think and worship, even if that requires some hard work. As Piper wrote in Future Grace, “When my sons complain that a good book is hard to read, I say, ‘Raking is easy, but all you get is leaves; digging is hard, but you might find diamonds.'”

There are few works in history that had the influence the Institutes had, and had the effect of changing the course of history as this work did. One more though, I also own this version of Calvin's Magnum Opus, am about 250 pages in, it's the easiest version to read, I find, because it is shorter than the 1559 version and the headers and other aides makes this translation quite a treat, for me, a Calvinist.

I would definitely start with Machen, you cant go wrong. World Magazine said it's one of the 100 best books of the millennium:

>It was named one of the top 100 books of the millennium by World magazine and one of the top 100 books of the twentieth century by Christianity Today. / “An admirable book. For its acumen, for its saliency, and for its wit, this cool and stringent defense of orthodox Protestantism is, I think, the best popular argument produced [in the controversy between Christianity and liberalism].”

One last to share, I listened (ironically) to Dr. Adler's classic How to read a book which is a great one for whatever level of reader we find ourselves to be. We read and are driven to this endeavor because we seek to grow our minds. I don't mean to pile on, but you asked hehe. A few books to add to your list, believe me, when you start asking and keeping a "to-read list" it always seems to grow. There's lots of good stuff when you know what to look for :-)

Grace and peace.

u/gt0163c · 2 pointsr/Reformed

Yes, all RUF pastors are ordained ministers with seminary training. I'm friends with a bunch of current and former RUF pastors as well as other staff members (interns, the intern coordinator, assistant to an area director, etc). RUF's an awesome ministry and I'm a little jealous they it wasn't on my campus when I was in college. I'm sure your meeting with the pastor will be fruitful.

As for your concerns. Yep. That happens. Spiritual disciplines are hard. Fortunately we serve a God who knows that. Jesus died for us knowing full well most of us were going to be forgetful, sluggish people who neglect what we've been taught a good portion of the time and don't like to or want to repent. The fact that this troubles you is good! It's evidence of the Holy Spirit working in your life!

So, how do you fix it? There are some ways to become better at spiritual disciplines. Set aside a specific time each day to read scripture and pray. Using a devotional/Bible study guide might help. It's okay to pray printed prayers (The Valley of Vision) is one good source). Being in fellowship with other believers and being intentional about your interactions, talking about spiritual matters, praying together, etc is also helpful. There are tons of strategies. But also remember that these things do not save you (Yes, you almost certainly already know this. But as people we're really good at forgetting things.) There's a good quote from a book by Dallas Willard; "Grace is opposed to earning, not effort."

u/runningmailraces12 · 1 pointr/Reformed

> Do you mind providing some Scriptural support for that statement?

The most important thing to see is that Mosaic Law is an outgrowth of the Abrahamic covenant made in Genesis 17, rather than something opposite or disconnected. When you separate the two, the land promises made to Abraham go unfulfilled and circumcision takes on a connotation of both grace and law, which contradicts Romans 2:25. The Mosaic Law grows out of the promise God makes in Genesis 17. That is the covenant God remembered when He carried the Jews out of Egypt and gave them Canaan.

Passages such as Exodus 6:1-10, Joshua 5, Genesis 15:18, Exodus 23:31, Joshua 1:3, Exodus 32:13, Psalm 105:8-10, Leviticus 26, and Galatians 3.

A great comparison of the three views (Mosaic and Abrahamic are both law; Abrahamic is grace and Mosaic is law; Mosaic and Abrhamic are both grace) can be found in Pascal Denault's Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology. It's obviously in favor of the baptist view, but is a resource that has helped me greatly.

> what do people specifically have in mind when they use words like "administration" and "republication"? Are they synonymous?

To the best of my understanding, yes, they are roughly the same thing. "Substance", in Presbyterian covenant theology is roughly the purpose of the covenant and "administration" is the how the covenant is administered. Republication is the "re-administration" of a previous covenant. Republication is usually restricted to addressing the covenant of works, because the covenant of works is seen as failing with Adam, so it's "re-administered" later on, in a temporal sense with a different outcome. The covenant of grace is not republished because it never failed and will never fail. It is continuous and has no end.

> Would you mind detailing the reasons for traditional Presbyterians to believe in the Mosaic Covenant to be an administration of the Covenant of Grace?

The majority of the arguments for the Mosaic covenant being a covenant of grace is the stipulations for the forgiveness of sins built into the law. I am familiar with the argument, but I have never found this argument compelling, especially in light of passages such as Hebrews 10:4, 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, and Romans 4:15.

Additionally, the second argument is that the law is gracious in that it pushes people into the arms of Christ, but this can be accomplished from a covenant of works and does not necessitate the substance of the law be grace.

A third and final argument I have heard for the law being a covenant of grace is that God made a covenant when He didn't have to, but isn't that true with even the Adamic covenant of works? It's probably the weakest of the three.

Besides Presbyterians who really dive into covenant theology, seeing the law as a covenant of grace proves difficult to defend, at least in my experience. There is a growing movement within both the PCA and the OPC where the Mosaic Law is seen as a unique covenant of works (republication). The continental reformed churches even allow for the adherence to republication.

In my experience, trying to reconcile Paul's teachings of the law and the teaching that the law is actually inherently grace is what pushed me to the 1689 LBCF.

> Thank you so much, again! I think I'm slowly (but surely) starting to piece covenantal theology together.

No problem at all! As always, feel free to ask any more questions you may have.

u/aathma · 1 pointr/Reformed

I don't think the works are primarily a proof of our faith to ourselves but a witness of the authenticity of our faith, already known by us, to those around us. At least, that is what I think James is talking about.

Self-witness, I feel, comes from continuing acknowledgement of Biblical truths to your self, growing desire to obey God's commands, and continual turning away from sin.

I would also add that both the easy-believism and works-based crowds have a higher perceived assurance because they are both point towards actions the have take as opposed to actions God has taken. The Reformed position is indeed less straight-forward but that is because we reliant on God's mercy... and I honestly believe that the recognition of the full need for Jesus to be our righteousness to be very comforting to me personally.

I would recommend getting a copy of [
The Valley of Vision*]( as this has been very helpful for my own assurance and encouragement.

u/pjamberger · 8 pointsr/Reformed

I can't say one single piece of evidence (or a single study) convinced me, but I can summarize the various pieces of evidence as biogeography - the fact that we see similar (related) creatures living in the same geographic area and even some creatures on different continents with similar features in places where plate tectonics would lead us to expect similarities - and genetics, most notably the human vitamin c gene, which is defective.

The evidence for evolution is not measured in single studies, but in the weight of the collective evidence. For an overview of the collective evidence across many fields, this book by Jerry Coyne lays out the general case for the factuality of evolution. If you read it you do need to be ready for some Dawkins-esque posturing - he wrote a book on why faith and science are incompatible, but the information in the book is very good. For a basic summary, this Khan Academy page does a good job.

Finally, institutions like the Biologos institute convinced me that it's Biblically okay to believe in Theistic Evolution (Evolutionary Creation? Whichever one posits God's active involvement in creation via evolution.). The final "nail in the coffin" was The Lost World of Genesis One by John Walton.

u/reformedscot · 4 pointsr/Reformed

A commitment
A plan
An age-appropriate Bible
Maybe something catechetical like Songs for Saplings

Start and go. There are curricula all over the web. Most denoms have an education resource ministry. Check with them. Just beware of spending so long looking for the perfect resource that you don't actually get to the family worship. With a bible, some songs, an ability to think a little ahead about what you want to share, and an opportunity to pray, you're better of than nearly everyone who has to do it from the book. It will be more natural, centered to your family, and adaptive to the changing needs and circumstances of your own lives. For some a book can be helpful. For most, just get in there and do it.

u/buzz_bender · 1 pointr/Reformed

>suggest a (roughly) two-month reading plan to get through the Old Testament? Ie, how much to read per day, in what order to read the books

I'd suggest reading one whole book at a go, i.e. finish reading Genesis either in one sitting, or in a few sittings. The Old Testament is such that you need the big picture before you can fully understand each part.

>recommend extra-biblical resources to help me understand the OT? I know the [1] Rose Book is a good one, any others?

I'd suggest two books. Graeme Goldsworthy's Gospel and Kingdom and Vaughn Roberts' God's Big Picture. Those two are very short and easy to understand books. These two books help you understand that the role of the OT is to point to Jesus, and gives you a very quick big picture and central message of the OT and thus the whole Bible. I'd highly recommend them first before you start your OT reading.

>give general advice/tips on how to make the reading time most productive/effective and not cause me to burn out?

Read the OT narratives as stories, rather than trying to do a Bible study on them every single time. You can do your bible study after you have finished reading it. :) Secondly, when reading wisdom books or prophecies, keep in mind the timeline of Israel and when it is written and the history behind it. It will illuminate the prophets for you, otherwise they'll be a mystery to you.

u/b3k · 6 pointsr/Reformed

Of course the top "reformed book" is Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.

A great and useful book is the Heidelberg Catechism (or the Baptist version).

And, something put together this century is Valley of Vision, a great book of prayers to help learn to pray better.

u/superlewis · 11 pointsr/Reformed
  1. YouVersion has some great Bible reading plans. I would suggest McCheyne's
  2. A great companion for reading in a McCheyne plan is D.A. Carson's For the Love of God Part 1 Part 2
  3. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you as you read scripture is to look at the big picture. Try to see where the passage you are reading fits into the grand storyline of the Bible.
  4. May I also suggest picking up a book that will cover Bible doctrines? It's really helpful to have a grasp on what the Bible says about God and how He interacts with His creation. On the layman's level I would suggest Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem. If you feel like going a little deeper, check out Grudem's bigger book Bible Doctrine. If you feel like really digging in, go with Grudem's massive Systematic Theology, which I believe is the most readable systematic theology available.
  5. I'm a Baptist so I think getting rebaptized is great, assuming you are a genuine believer at this point, which I have no cause to doubt. In fact, if I was being a cranky Baptist I would tell you you're not getting rebaptized, you were just a wet sinner the first time. However, I'm only occasionally a cranky Baptist, and have nothing against my paedobaptist brothers (other than thinking they're wrong on this one).
  6. Get into a good church. I know you mentioned you're following Christ and not a church, but the local church is one of the primary means of doing so. Maybe you already have done this, and I am misinterpreting what you were trying to say. Lone ranger Christians are unhealthy Christians. If you are looking for a good church check with 9Marks and The Gospel Coalition.

    I hope this helps.

    edit: spelling
u/mlbontbs87 · 1 pointr/Reformed

Out of curiosity, why do you want modern?

I've been reading Covenant Theology: From Adam to Christ recently. It might be the best book on CT from a baptistic perspective out there, though its 300+ years old. Alternatively The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology is excellently done, scholarly and modern. It can be a bit tedious, since it was originally written in French as a master's thesis.

From a presbyterian perspective, I read The Christ of the Covenants and found it excellent and winsome. A number of reformed colleges and seminaries use it as a textbook.

You should be able to get any of those from the Christian Book Nook, or I can lend them to you at church on Sunday if you'd rather save some cash.

u/terevos2 · 9 pointsr/Reformed

I can, in good conscience, recommend Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. It's still one of the most readable and well done Systematics out there. He presents opposing viewpoints in a charitable light and summarizes major and minor points of various doctrines concisely, yet thoroughly enough for a decent understanding of them.

As well, other than what has already been shared, I'd recommend John Frame's Systematic. It's more scholarly than Grudem's, yet still very readable. It's also organized well.

u/Aviator07 · 1 pointr/Reformed

I'm not aware of any catechisms that are structured that way, but what you are describing is basically the difference between Systematic Theology and Biblical Theology.

If you want to get a good primer in Biblical Theology, there are several great sources out there.

The Goldsworthy Trilogy (Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel in Wisdom, Gospel in Revelation) by Graeme Goldsworthy

According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy

God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

What is Biblical Theology by James Hamilton

u/5upralapsarian · 3 pointsr/Reformed

The King James Only Controversy

Even if you don't have any dealings with KJV Onlyists this was an amazing read that gives you a real appreciation for the Bible.

The Potter's Freedom

There's a revised edition now but this is the one I read. Even if you're already a Calvinist and even if you never read that horrendous piece of work, "Chosen But Free", this is still an amazing read. Gives you an appreciation for how consistent Calvinism really is.

u/rdavidson24 · 3 pointsr/Reformed

Goldsworthy is a great place to start. I recommend According to Plan, which includes "Gospel and Kingdom" mentioned elsewhere but also "Gospel and Wisdom" and "Gospel in Revelation". So you get the covenant theology take on all of Scripture.

For what it's worth, Christ of the Covenants is like $10 on Amazon. I think that's the book I used in my OT class in college. But I think I'd go with Goldsworthy for the extra eight bucks.

u/Mynome · 4 pointsr/Reformed

[John Walton] ( is an OT scholar and professor at Wheaton College. I just finished the [Lost World of Genesis One] ( this week and would highly recommend it.

He argues that the creation account concerns functional origins rather than material origins. To show this he considers a few Hebrew words in Genesis 1, specifically bara (translated as 'create') and tohu and bohu (translated as 'formless and void'). He contends that bara primarily concerns function-giving instead of material creation, and that tohu/bohu refer to an unproductive/nonfunctional state instead of an empty one. His analysis relies heavily on considering ancient near east culture and how they would have interpreted what's writtten in Gen. 1, claiming that a truly literal approach to reading the Bible is found through understanding what it meant in the world that it was first written.

Of course he goes into a lot more detail, and discusses a number of other topics related to the Gen. 1 debate. If you're like I was before reading it, these kinds of arguments will be pretty foreign to you, but I found them to be pretty persuasive and certainly worth a read.

u/roanhorse95 · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I like the method presented in Michael Kruger's book Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books. He calls it the self-authenticating method (by listening to some of what you mentioned you might have heard of it). It is essentially this: canonical books must meet four criteria – 1. Providntial Exposer 2. Divine Qualities 3. Corporate Reception and 4. Apostolic Origins.

There is a ton of nuance there, but I think that the method he presents is the best considering the alternatives. This method makes a case for Revelation as canon and perhaps Enoch as scripture (again, a lot of nuance, and in his book he talks about books that were Scripture but are not canon, such as Paul's lost letters).

Overall, the canon must be self auhthenticating, and a lot of methods we use to argue for canonical books rely on authority that rests outside of God and his Word. I highly suggest reading his book. If you want a free .mobi or .epub copy direct message me.

u/dionysius_rossi · 2 pointsr/Reformed

The Puritans practiced a form of discursive "meditation" (think of Augustine's Confessions and how he talks to God while thinking through something) that has been getting some much needed attention lately. David Saxton's book "God's Battle Plan for the Mind: The Puritan Practice of Biblical Meditation" is a great book on the subject.  Joel Berke also has a great summary (in less depth), for free here.

Another Reformed classic is Matthew Henry's A Way to Pray, which is online here. Henry takes the strangely novel approach of creating a "prayer book" composed entirely of Scripture.

Another absolutely essentially "prayer book" is "The Valley of Vision."  Just get it.

Finally, not to be to self serving, but I have setup an online liturgical website who's sole intention is to help Christians pray either regular morning and evening services (Psalter once a month), or even the classic hours (Psalter in a week).  I created Reformed and Evangelical services that try to combine Matthew Henry's method of using Scripture as the prayers while retaining the classical western liturgical tradition (similar to the Book of Common Prayer) but modified to remove the repetitions and keep the non-biblical content to an absolute minimum. If you're interested, you can check it out here.

One last thing, I'd personally stay away from things like the Jesus Prayer if you're Reformed. There's nothing wrong with the prayer itself, but it's practice in the East is tied into the mystical practice of hesychasm, which is itself tied to the asceticism of the Eastern Orthodox, which is in turn, tied to a very un-Reformed view of salvation as the synergistic healing of the nous (which was just damaged in the fall) through the asceticism of the church, rather than as spiritually dead people being saved by God in spite of themselves and through no action of their own.

u/chewblacca681 · 2 pointsr/Reformed

Have you considered going through The Valley of Vision, perhaps following a daily guide?

Not only do I enjoy and benefit from praying the old Puritan prayers, they also help and encourage me to consistently pray personal prayers.

u/robertwilliams · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I understand your point and disagree. But really my intent was to use the BCP in private worship and devotions; the RPW only pertains to corporate worship.

I have a copy of The Valley of Vision which is a collection of devotions and prayers of the Puritans. Some have used it for their own devotions. Would you also consider that inappropriate?

There's also this book about a prayer of a guy named Jabez; I think I should try that out for sure. ;-)

u/fuzzymumbochops · 5 pointsr/Reformed

Of course "six days" means "six days." The question is what does a "day" mean for the writer(s) of Genesis. Is it a period of 24 hours or not? All evidence from the surrounding passage suggests that the writer wouldn't have meant a literal 24 hour period.

I'll simplify it. What do I mean when I say to someone "I've been stuck in traffic for a year!"? Do I mean a literal period of 356 (and a third) days? No, I'd certainly hope not. How'd you know that? Context of what I was talking about. Now reread the rest Gen 1-12 with this in mind. But also read the scholarship of the people who get paid to investigate this sort of thing.

Also, as to my Hebrew qualifications, I'd rather this not become a fight about whether I'm more or less qualified than you. That's an illogical way of arguing (ad hominem). Instead, since you're well versed in Hebrew, let's also presume that you're well versed in Old Testament scholarship. So here's a better way to go about things: let's list some scholarship. I'll start. Here's a tenured Old Testament professor who's studied Hebrew for about 40 years professionally. He teaches at a fairly conservative Christian college in the United States which has a reputation for being the Harvard of the Christian education world. He's written a book called The Lost World of Genesis One which supports everything I've mentioned. But don't buy his theological position just because of his tremendous qualifications. Read the book because of that. Make up your own mind as to the success or failure of his argument. This is how intellectual discussions work.

u/DaJuanbobo · 3 pointsr/Reformed

I love Micheal Kruger's books Canon revisited and The question of Canon. If you really want to dive into the subject D.A. Carson's The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures is an amazing resource.

u/Luo_Bo_Si · 10 pointsr/Reformed

I would recommend the work of Michael
Kruger like Canon Revisited or The Question of Canon.

Beyond that, a classic is Warfield's The Authority and Inspiration of the Bible. Maybe even Blomberg's The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.

u/bryan-forbes · 1 pointr/Reformed

I just reread my phrasing, and I admit that it's probably a bit confusing. Let me try again.

The phrasing Peter uses is similar to the whole "President Clinton" thing Grudem uses. Someone who knew him when he was in college can say, "I knew President Clinton when he was in college." But they don't literally mean they knew Clinton when he was both in college and the President of the United States. As far as I know, he hasn't gone back to college since graduating (and before he was president). What they mean is:

> You know President Clinton? I knew him back before he was President of the United States. We were in college together.

From what I understand (and what Grudem explains), the structure of the Greek that Peter used follows a similar pattern to how we can speak of someone using their current title in a past tense when they didn't have that title. So when Peter says, "in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison" I would say that he is saying this:

> There are spirits that are in prison now. Christ proclaimed righteousness to these spirits through Noah while the spirits were still alive.

Hopefully that makes it more clear.

I've seen your posts and I see your desire to learn, so I'll offer this advice: If you want to understand, I would recommend two things. First, read the Bible cover to cover and understand that if a verse is going to be used alone, the interpretation must take into account its context with other verses in that chapter, book, and the whole Bible as well as the intended audience and how they would have understood the words used. Second, get a good Systematic Theology. I highly recommend Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. Note that a Systematic Theology is no substitute for the Bible (which is why I didn't recommend it first), but it can help as you wrestle through tough scripture.

u/Backwoods_Boy · 2 pointsr/Reformed

Thanks for those links. I'm going through Cowan and Spiegel's The Love of Wisdom, and was actually going to buy Frame's book my next go-around at buying books. I'll read it when I'm done with my other book, but this will definitely be helpful!

u/tapeinapologia · 2 pointsr/Reformed

Pascal Denault has a good smaller work, but I know there are people at the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies who are currently working on more comprehensive systematic treatments :)

u/DoritoBeast420 · 15 pointsr/Reformed

The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? by James White would probably be your best bet in understanding KJVO adherents.

u/remembertosmilebot · 2 pointsr/Reformed

Did you know Amazon will donate a portion of every purchase if you shop by going to instead? Over $50,000,000 has been raised for charity - all you need to do is change the URL!

Here are your smile-ified links:

Christ, Baptism and the Lord's Supper: Recovering the Sacraments for Evangelical Worship

Given for You: Reclaiming Calvin's Doctrine of the Lord's Supper

The Lord's Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory

The Lord's Supper in the Reformed Tradition

What is The Lord's Supper?


^^i'm ^^a ^^friendly bot

u/1Tim1_15 · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I had to use three different ones at a SBC seminary (2006) and my favorite is Wayne Grudem's. It's not specifically Presbyterian but it is reformed.

I like it because it is written in such a way that highschoolers can understand it. It's not as deep as you can get but it's not entry-level either...somewhat in the middle. You can probably find a used one in good condition at a low price.

u/mpaganr34 · 1 pointr/Reformed

I recommend The Distinctiveness of Baptist Covenant Theology by Pascal Denault. It was very helpful for me because I knew I was covenantal, but wasn’t convinced of paedobaptism. He offers the 1689 view of covenant theology which is more nuanced and yet doesn’t fall into New Covenant Theology.

u/keltonz · 5 pointsr/Reformed

A lot of good comments here. I suggest you read a good book on the history of the canon, though. You’re operating with a few misconceptions.

Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books

u/friardon · 5 pointsr/Reformed

I have this version and it is a really easy to read translation. The only complaint I have is the typeface. Other than that, it's great. Look for it used or on Kindle if $90 is a bit steep. I bought mine under a pastoral stipend back in the day.

u/CiroFlexo · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I'd recommend two versions of essentially the same resource by R. C. Sproul:

  1. Chosen by God - This is the book version. It's a fairly short, accessible read, and it'll probably answer a lot of your questions. I can't recommend this enough.

  2. Chosen by God - If you want to watch a series of sermons/lectures which covers much of the same ground, Ligonier has Sproul's video series up for free.
u/JCmathetes · 1 pointr/Reformed

Oh heaven help me...

Read. The. Book.

u/LUSOR_dude · 1 pointr/Reformed

Judging from your flair, you're a Reformed Baptist like myself. Check out Richard Barcellos' The Lord's Supper as a Means of Grace. Incredibly helpful resource. Although I'm lacking in resources for baptism, I'd recommend The Fatal Flaw as well as other resources from the 1689 Federalism site.

u/Repentant_Revenant · 4 pointsr/Reformed

The academic work of John Walton is what makes the most sense to me.

A really good talk by Tim Mackie from the Bible Project sums it up incredibly well.

u/nightfly13 · 1 pointr/Reformed

The best resource that I own and have used is F.F. Bruce's 'The Canon of Scripture'. Pretty accessible, but won't win awards for entertainment.

u/BishopOfReddit · 7 pointsr/Reformed

Here is a good visual of Gerhardus Vos' two age eschatology:

Lots in this book as he outlines the development of God's kingdom through the Bible:

Here is the most compact summary of covenant theology I have come across:

Edit 1:

Here is a good one on Christ's Humiliation and Exaltation:

This one is okay - Its the work of the Triune God in salvation:

Christ's threefold office:

u/pensivebadger · 5 pointsr/Reformed

I may reply more to you later, but as a quick reply, you may be interested in the work of a couple of professors, both of whom acknowledge evolution as the mechanism behind the creation of life.

One is C. John Collins, professor of Old Testament at Covenant Theological Seminary. He believes in a literal Adam and Eve and his book is Did Adam and Eve Really Exist?: Who They Were and Why You Should Care.

The second is John Walton, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College. He does not believe in a literal Adam and Eve and his book is The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.

u/J0llyRoger · 1 pointr/Reformed

Thanks /u/friardon for the tidbit!

I got John Frame's History of Western Philosophy and Theology. I haven't found a history of philosophy from the Reformed perspective that's also thorough and knows the details of competing philosophies. So when I read about this book coming, I knew I want to buy asap.

u/ResidentRedneck · 3 pointsr/Reformed

I'm really concerned that you don't understand the nature of textual criticism. I'd like to recommend the King James Only Controversy by James White. It's a book that speaks very well to the exact questions you seem to have.

u/wellbredgrapefruit · 6 pointsr/Reformed

It's not postmil, by any stretch of the imagination, but I highly recommend Hendriksen's interpretation of Revelation - More Than Conquerors - to anyone who's struggling with Revelation.

I also think it's worth remembering that Revelation was written as an encouragement to the Church. So if you are assured of your salvation but are experiencing anxiety about Revelation, I'd suggest you might be taking the wrong message from it somewhere.

u/jsyeo · 4 pointsr/Reformed
  • According to Plan by Graeme Goldsworthy
  • God's Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

    These books helped me to get my bearings right when I look at a particular passage in the Bible. I now ask questions like, "Where is this passage in relation to the redemptive history?" and "How does this OT passage point to Jesus?"
u/WafflesAndGuitars · 2 pointsr/Reformed

A good book on this topic is Christ of the Covenants by O. Palmer Robertson

u/mattb93 · 3 pointsr/Reformed

For a broad overview of philosophy, I've heard good things about Frame's History of Western Philosophy and Theology. Though it is an expensive and massive tome.

u/WhaleCannon · 3 pointsr/Reformed

Two that I like:

  • William Hendriksen - More than Conquerers
  • Paul Gardner - Revelation

    The first has become something of a standard in Reformed circles. The second is a more recent, pastoral approach.
u/Smakula · 6 pointsr/Reformed

How to Read a Book. This would have saved me a lot of time and I would have gotten a lot more out of my reading had I read it before seminary.

u/jibjib513 · 4 pointsr/Reformed

I've got this one, planning to read it very soon...

The Lord's Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory - Richard C. Barcellos

u/jcdulos · 1 pointr/Reformed

I maybe interested. Is this the one you’re referring to?

Reformed Dogmatics: Abridged in One Volume

u/DrJohnnyBravo · 1 pointr/Reformed

Finally got the Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem. Got it for around $25 (hardback), it sure does beats lifeway's $55 price tag.

u/micahnotmika20 · 1 pointr/Reformed

And I think you might like this one

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate

The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

u/TJ_Floyd · 13 pointsr/Reformed

If you want a Conservative Scholarly treatment of the problem of the Canon, I'd suggest reading Canon Revisited by Michael Kruger. He also has a series of lectures on the Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS) mobile app called "The Origin and Authority of the New Testament Canon" that are really good (here is the course syllabus: PDF warning. This is a tough subject, but if you really want to dig deep into it Michael Kruger is the go-to scholar for a Conservative Reformed approach to the Canon of scripture.

u/peasantcore · 1 pointr/Reformed

This is the Amazon listing, which puts it around $50 ($35 for the Kindle copy). There are used listings for about $35.

u/underrealized · 3 pointsr/Reformed

Dr. Richard Barcellos, a reformed baptist, would disagree with you. See his book The Lord's Supper as a Means of Grace: More Than a Memory.

u/tbwIII · 1 pointr/Reformed

Actually that's "Bible Doctrine" and "Christian Beliefs" is the concise version of that. In other words, it's the condensed condensed Systematic Theology

u/Theomancer · 8 pointsr/Reformed

This is similar-but-different, but a 50,000 foot view of the storyline particularly with a theological angle on the history of covenants -- "The Christ of the Covenants," by O. Palmer Robertson.

u/SWFK · 3 pointsr/Reformed

After many verbal recommendations from him, I finally borrowed How To Read a Book from a friend. It's an incredible book, and it has a lot to offer especially if you've never been trained in logic, liberal arts, or just how to read arguments well.

I'm an engineer by training and trade (with the reading/writing skills of one to boot) but enjoy reading 10-15 (mostly nonfiction) books a year. I've never known there was more to reading than just starting on page 1 and plowing through. With the advice from this book, you'll be able to cut to the core propositions of a theological, philosophical, historical, and even fictional argument without losing appreciation for the work as a whole.

u/mickeyquicknumbers · 1 pointr/Reformed

Highly recommend this one

Also, is he arguing for hypercalvinism in this exchange?

u/makumazahn · 2 pointsr/Reformed

I'd recommend John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation and Communion with the Triune God. The first book quite literally changed my life. Then if you want to read the Reformed response to Bellarmine, check out Turretin's Institutes of Elenctic Theology. This book is seen in Reformed circles the way Aquinas is in Catholic ones. Calvin's Institutes are incredible, too, and far more accessible.

u/NukesForGary · 5 pointsr/Reformed

Depends how familiar you are with Reformed theology already. I wouldn't say it is the best place to start in reformed theology. I would maybe start with Kuyper's Stone Lectures or maybe Bavinck. I would say be weary of anyone who tries to boil down Calvinism to 5 points. If you find a book that does that, it is doing Calvinism a serious injustice.

u/batcavejanitor · 1 pointr/Reformed

The Theology of Augustine by Matthew Levering

Four Views on the Historical Adam by 4 different authors

The Question of Canon by Michael Kruger (unfortunately I doubt I'll get to this but I'll try)

Finishing books for school

And my comic books

u/REVDR · 6 pointsr/Reformed

The McNeill edition of the Battles translation is the standard text for most seminary courses.

u/pubmad · 6 pointsr/Reformed

Here is some stuff from James White: There are several videos here that are very insightful.

Also, a book he wrote:

I'd argue that KJV-onlyism borders on heresy b/c it starts putting extra rules and requirements on the Gospel, and it misconstrues how the veracity of the Gospel has been preserved. Additionally, it is incredibly Anglo-centric and starts posing really big problems for non-English speakers.

I attend a Reformed Baptist church (1689 myself, church has a Master's Grad teaching pastor/elder), and we have several of the IB churches/groups around us. These people tend to be far dogmatic about KJV-onlyism than they are about the Gospel, which breaks my heart, and tend to be confrontational to the fact that the teaching elder uses the Elect Standard Version from the pulpit (hurr hurr there ESV).

Also, this coming from a person who does his daily bible reading partially in KJV daily, and it is my preferred reading version.

Note: I have also noticed these IB folks generally do not hold to unconditional election either.