Resources

Resources Worth a Second Look

By Martin G. Selbrede
July 06, 2014

If you’ve got a fairly sizable library of Chalcedon material at your home, you may want to consider looking at other volumes that, in their own way, will further equip and edify you and your family. The following books represent an interesting cross-section of sanctified Christian thought that would add value to any library. While not intended as substitutes for the unique offerings of Chalcedon, they all represent aspects of the faith for all of life that should garner respect among all thinking Christians.

Dr. Morecraft’s Magnum Opus

In his massive five-volume work, Authentic Christianity: An Exposition of the Theology and Ethics of the Westminster Larger Catechism, Dr. Joseph C. Morecraft III brings his considerable Biblical acumen to bear on a mammoth suite of topics. The expositions are judicious and comprehensive. Had Dr. Rushdoony been alive when these volumes appeared in 2009, he would surely have graced them with a foreword steeped in gratitude for the faithfulness to Christ and His cause marking its several thousand pages. This is a work that sinks deep foundations so as to better build a mighty edifice of truth.

If your children work through these volumes with diligence, alongside the works of other critical thinkers of our era, they will be building on rock indeed. There’s no shifting sand here: only bedrock.

These volumes are of high value, and serious Christians will resort to them repeatedly to avail themselves of the clear scriptural waters pouring from its fount. For those who don’t suffer from Picard’s Syndrome (a preference for physical books in hand), the entire work is also delivered in searchable PDF form, making it doubly useful for study (the latter copyrighted 2010 by American Vision, Inc.).

Thy Will Be Done

One of the weaknesses of Christian Reconstruction is a failure to bring its strengths into other arenas and to develop the implications of faith for all of life in its more practical/personal aspects. This is most notable in regard to “relational Christianity.” This is a term regarded with suspicion by many serious Christians. Why? Because it has been exploited by pietists to crowd out all consideration of our calling under Christ to apply His Word to every aspect of our lives. In reality, however, the idea of “relational Christianity” is one that needs to be taken captive to the obedience of Christ. Perhaps then it wouldn’t be pitted against a broad application of the faith, but rather show us how to cast an even wider net in our application of the Word of God. We might even find a blessing in so doing.

Ron W. Kirk’s book, Thy Will Be Done: When All Nations Call God Blessed, was published in 2013 by Nordskog Publishing. Ron is the former Education Editor of Faith for All of Life and represents a confluence of several distinct “theological rivers” that emerged when the Volker Fund was disbanded in the 1960s. The two most significant Volker alumni were R. J. Rushdoony and Verna Hall. As Miss Hall would later quip, Dr. Rushdoony embodied Puritan interests while she and Rosalie Slater embodied Pilgrim interests. These fellow warriors remained cordial cobelligerents throughout their lives and always exhibited mutual respect for the other’s work.

In this volume, we see the power in synthesizing the best of each thinker’s approach to reality. In just over 200 pages, this tour de force manages to set forth one of the most innovative, insightful, and far-reaching applications of the Christian faith that I have had the pleasure to encounter. The author brings forth treasures old and new on every page, steeped in the experience garnered after decades of diligent application.

If it is true, as Otto Scott pointed out, that character determines destiny, then the shaping of character within the framework of the whole counsel of God must be the missing piece in contemporary Christianity. The inculcation of character should work hand in hand with an uncompromising theology, for a weakness in the former will publicly discredit the latter. Those who love the law of God and delight in it should, by rights, be men and women and children who others would wish to emulate—rather than to avoid like the plague. If we’ve worn out our welcome, it’s not because we’ve applied the Word too consistently, but not consistently enough.

Ron Kirk gives us a glimpse of what families, churches, and our society would look like when God is given His due in all things, including our relations with others. As you read this work, which is irenic in tone yet startling in its moral clarity, you realize that you could be bringing Christ’s kingship to bear in this worldright now in ways that are letter simple. This book lifts the veil that too often covers the eyes of those prone to see theology in abstraction rather than in human terms.

The winnowing fan is in the Messiah’s hands, and He will thoroughly purge His threshing floor. Sanctification of cultures and individuals involves the driving away of chaff. How this can be achieved across multiple elements of our complex social world, embracing laws, schools, vocation, social needs, economics, education, and more, is explained in clear, ingratiating terms.

The part your own heart must play in the transformation of this world as “the darkness passes away” (I John 2:8) is no less a part of His work with the fan. He won’t drive chaff out of our culture without first driving it out of our own hearts. This book, then, restores a balance that ought never to have been lost to us. Light versus heat, or personal versus cultural: these are false dichotomies. Ron Kirk’s book argues for light and heat, personal and cultural … and provides the roadmap into the future that will expand how broadly you will apply your faith.

Of the Making of Manifestos

The march of time emblazoned on the cover of Rebuilding Civilization on the Bible, by Dr. James Grimstead and Dr. Eugene Calvin Clingman, makes clear that we stand upon a centuries-long heritage of the faithful who drove stakes into the ground to mark out territory for Christ. Extending from the writing of the New Testament up through the Counsel of Chalcedon of A.D. 451 and leaping to Luther’s 95 Theses of 1517, then the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy of 1978, the dates end at a key event in the year 2017. This is the projected year for the International Church Council, five hundred years after the posting of Luther’s 95 Theses.

In this new book (published in 2014 by Nordskog Publishing), the two authors set about to codify the theological/cultural content that should govern and shape the work of this projected council. Building a consensus on the application of Scripture to our world is no small task. What should appear in such a manifesto? What heresies should we repudiate? What parts of past councils should we incorporate?

Yes, this undertaking should intimidate the authors. But the need to start the process weighs on them more heavily than other considerations—as it should. The scope of this book is suggested in the subtitle: Proclaiming the Truth on 24 Controversial Issues. Like most church councils of the past, this one will need to find its voice in response to movements in the church at large that permit harmful ideas to shape its future. Perhaps some years after this Council takes place, someone will write an appendix to Dr. Rushdoony’s Foundations of Social Order that will put this planned work in perspective.

We pray that whatever might be written of it will speak well of the architects of this convocation. The unwavering commitment to Scripture evidenced by the authors who assembled this material is as solid as can be hoped. As a blueprint for a successful Council, the authors have surely not fallen short, and as 2017 approaches, more iron will sharpen iron in refining things further. This glimpse into the hothouse of theological controversy lets us know what we are now facing, in our own time, in respect to compromise versus faithfulness.

Those who will participate in this Council should be prepared for difficulty, for many are the corrosive forces that have sought to water down the faith for all of life. We may find reason in 2017 to think back on Warfield’s century-old rejoinder to someone who stopped him as he was advancing up the steps to a contentious general assembly meeting. The woman begged him, “Please, Dr. Warfield, let us pray for peace.” He answered curtly, “I am praying that if they do not do what is right, that there may be a mighty battle.”

Family Devotions Without Compromise

I was sent Volume 1 of the newly published devotional essays by Klaas Schilder (1890–1952) that go under the title Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh, published in 2013 by Inheritance Publications. I was so impressed with this material that I purchased two four-volume sets (a full year of daily devotions), one for myself and one for a dear friend looking for good materials for his family to read together.

High regard for these remarkable smaller volumes prompted me to acquire Schilder’s masterpiece, his 1,500-page, three-volume set on the suffering, trial, and crucifixion of Christ. This massive work received high praise from R. J. Rushdoony:

Dr. Schilder was one of the great theologians in the Netherlands Church, a professor and a pastor, a very powerful speaker because of the content of his preaching. His three volumes on the passion of Christ, still in print in this country, are landmark works. The only thing wrong with reading them is that when you finish reading them, you know you will never read anything like them again.

These devotionals had only been available in the Dutch language up until the time Roelof A. Janssen translated them into English. The same tremendous depth of insight that marked Schilder’s trilogy is just as clearly evident in these short, two-page devotional essays. Yes, the theology is bite-sized in length, but not in depth, and Janssen has done the English-speaking world a great service in giving us this remarkable gift.

Buy this because you love your family and want to open up the Scriptures to them daily, deepening their appreciation for God’s mighty works among men. The church at large will be strengthened when more books like this find their way onto the shelves of all faithful families, to be read in conjunction with other gems (like Rushdoony’s various A Word in Season volumes).

If this first printing proves successful, these books would warrant some minor cosmetic changes (some editing to smooth out the English translation and punctuation in a few places would be beneficial, and the margins on the pages should be widened). But Schilder’s gripping way with words pulls you so quickly into the narrative that these quibbles quickly lose meaning. I wept while reading many of these essays. I would still be thanking God for them even if these soul-stirring essays had been written in crayon on cardboard.

Get the four paperback devotionals for your family. Consider getting the 1,500-page trilogy for yourself.

The Myth of the Stranger

Dr. C. van der Waal (1919–1980) didn’t live to finish the work that he began when he penned The World Our Home, published in 2013 by Inheritance Publications. But there can be no doubt that he has done us an inestimable service in showing how emasculating—and ultimately unbiblical—the idea of the Christian as a “stranger and alien,” with no meaningful stake in the current world, really is. If we’re just passing through, with our citizenship elsewhere, what should we care about this “vale of tears”? So we’re told that it’s not our problem: we don’t belong here. And it isthis deadly mindset that van der Waal dismantles.

To set the “cultural mandate” on a firm foundation is an important task for the serious theologian. To do this in a readable format means that the ideas will seep even deeper into the conscience of those who encounter this important writer.

It was not at first obvious to me where the author planned to take me as I began my journey with this short (150-page) book. He was under obligation to not only present a positive exposition of our obligations and responsibilities as redeemed men, but also to show why many texts, used to minimize such responsibilities, were being grossly misunderstood. The force of Scriptures antagonistic to the idea of cultural influence by Christians had to be confronted, and I was concerned to see how well Dr. van der Waal would meet this exegetical challenge. Such texts about Christians being merely strangers and pilgrims on earth, interested only in heavenly cities, had given neo-Platonic thinking a very useful hammer to wield against Christians trying to engage their culture.

Suffice it to say that not only does the author take away that hammer, providing a compelling explanation for the texts that only seemed to support pietistic abandonment of God’s world, he turns it into a hammer for cultural engagement. This is no mean feat when many Christians have insisted upon perpetual suffering as the sole calling for all Christians to the end of time. To push back against this theology, the author had to dissect the texts used to support it. This enterprise looked to be insurmountable at first, given the apparent consensus of a significant set of New Testament verses. It would take a tremendous amount of spot-on exposition of those texts to turn the flank of the defeatists.

This work provides that Biblical foundation, working through the translation issues and contexts verse by verse until the entire fabric of anemic theologies calling for cultural capitulation and retreat into the ghetto is left without Biblical support.

You will want copies to give to friends who’ve bought into the many conviction-sapping myths that continue to derail God’s Kingdom by neutering the resolve of His people.


Topics: Biblical Commentary, Biblical Law, Church, The, Creeds, Reformed Thought, Theology

Martin G. Selbrede

Martin is the senior researcher for Chalcedon’s ongoing work of Christian scholarship, along with being the senior editor for Chalcedon’s magazine, Faith for All of Life. He is considered a foremost expert in the thinking of R.J. Rushdoony. A sought-after speaker, Martin travels extensively and lectures on behalf of Christian Reconstruction and the Chalcedon Foundation. He is also an accomplished musician and composer.

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