I just got a copy of the Banner Of Truth edition of, “Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion.” This edition is the last one he wrote. He wrote it in French and it has been translated into English. I have another edition from Hendrickson that was earlier and translated from Latin into English by Henry Beveridge. I have to say, the Banner of Truth edition that was translated by Robert White is much more accessible. I’m enjoying it. It is much easier to follow and read. It is almost like reading a modern work. I highly recommend it if you have ever wanted to read Calvin, but found the Latin to English translations difficult. I’ve been told by a very educated man that Latin is a comparatively small language. I can see how the difference between the source material being written in French provides for the English translation being as easy to read as it is. If you don’t have this edition, go Get it.
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Many of you know what a Confession of Faith is. Many of you are familiar with the Westminster Confession of Faith. If you are one of the many who is already familiar, bear with me for a moment. If you are reading this review, and are not familiar with the subject matter, then you are here providentially to learn. When people speak of a Confession of Faith, they are talking about a Church document that apprises, in detail, the Essential Articles, or Doctrines of the Faith. You see, before the invention of the internet, mass media, and distribution, people had to read books, and other documents to learn things.
I know it seems silly, and antiquated in this day of smartphones, tablets, apps, and e-readers, but nonetheless it is true. For some of us old fuddy-duddies, the appeal of the book has not been outshined by modern contenders. Especially when it comes to having a hard copy record that can’t be changed with an internet update. So we have books with all of their limitations, and assets.
People would study from a Confession to give themselves a better understanding of what the Church believed. They would study, so they could teach others. They would study, so they could defend their beliefs. We still study for those same reasons.
Many Churches say they don’t have a confession of faith, creeds, or doctrines. Of course their claim qualifies as all of the above. It would be humorous if it weren’t so sad. Perhaps, they have some phobia against a clear statement of faith? Perhaps, they are afraid that God isn’t powerful enough to call, and keep His own? Maybe they fear people might be offended by the doctrines of the Faith? We do know from scripture, “For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
If you go to a Church with a, “Statement of Faith” or a, “What We Believe” article on their website, a Confession of Faith is sort of like that, but only more complete. So if you are feeling brave, and intrepid, I suggest you get ahold of your Church’s, confession, manual, or other foundational documentation, and compare it to the Bible. If it doesn’t match up, you should leave.
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a historic document of the Church. It came after the Protestant Reformation, during the Puritan era. The name comes from the Westminster Abbey, where the theologians of the time met, by request of the English Parliament, to provide advice on issues of worship, doctrine, government and discipline of the Church of England. The results were the Westminster Catechism, Longer and Shorter, as well as the Westminster Confession of Faith. This edition includes the American revisions, and is used widely by Presbyterian Churches here in America.
This edition of the Westminster Confession of Faith, is in the Gift Editions Collection, from Banner of Truth. They are small enough to go in your pocket. It measures 5.55 x 4 x 0.5 in. It is covered with a black, synthetic, leather-like, material with some ornamentation on the front cover. It has a sewn binding, as well as decorative head and tail bands.
These are durable little books, meant to be carried and shared. There is a very useful Table of Contents in the beginning, to help you quickly find the section you want to look up. It works great for quick reference when someone asks you a question. It includes proofs from scripture in each section. If you’ve ever wanted to understand Reformed theology better, this little book is a great aid. The Westminster Confession of Faith has become a familiar partner and aid to Christians through the many generations since its penning. I encourage you to get a copy of this for your edification, and the aid of others you come in contact with. The best way to effectively share your faith, is to know it first.
Make sure to check out all of the pictures on the flickr page.
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Richard Baxter’s, “The Reformed Pastor” published by, “The Banner of Truth” is just as relevant today as it was in 1651. It is a timeless classic of Christian writing and should be in every Pastor’s library and read by every Christian. This book was written to address problems Baxter saw with his contemporaries. He was going to address them with a speech, but fell ill. Instead, he wrote to them, the words recorded in this book. Some Pastors were unbelievers, some were, cold intellectuals with great educations, others were passionate, but not qualified to serve as Pastors, yet still others were just as crass and base as the carnal world they wallowed in. Baxter took them all to task, and not just them, but himself also.
Don’t be mistaken. This book is not a polemic, but a call to repent and be a loyal and true servant of God. The work is broken down into three chapters. Chapter one, “The oversight of ourselves” starts as a check up or a self-diagnostic per se. Baxter effectively brings to light the necessity of a Pastor being truly regenerated. Then, he warns Pastors about pitfalls of bad practices, as well encourages them. Chapter two, “The oversight of the flock” is just that. Instruction on how to perform the vocation dutifully for the Lord’s service and man’s benefit. If it weren’t full enough of good applicable information, then comes chapter three, “Application.” This Chapter is the largest of the book, and encompasses the most directly applicable information for Pastors. The book in its entirety, convicts, informs, and exhorts.
Some of you might be concerned that this book will be difficult to read due to it being in Modern English. (like the King James) I want to assure you that it was not a difficult read. Baxter put much emphasis on being comprehensible. He encourage the Pastors of the time to employ language and nomenclature that the common man would readily understand. With that in mind, Baxter wrote. This book, at times might slow you down, but not excessively or without easy remedy.
One of the points that grabbed my attention and seemed anachronistic was his preaching against Pastors using their positions as a means to easy and comfortable lives. It brought to mind many of the Television Pastors living in sixteen thousand square foot palatial homes, while owning fleets of private jets. I guess bilking the hurting and needy in the name of God has been around for a long time. That is why it, “seemed” anachronistic when it actually wasn’t.
There is so much in this book to like. I found myself underlining and highlighting entire sections. It is extremely relevant for today, just as I am sure it was for the time in which Baxter wrote. It reminds me of, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, but only for Pastors and from the perspective of a Pastor. That being said, there are theological notions that Baxter held that I do not affirm. He held to a sort of middle way when it came to soteriology. He wasn’t Arminian and he wasn’t Reformed. While I may not hold to Baxter’s theological convictions, I did thoroughly enjoy this book and will probably read it again and again over the years to come. You can purchase your copy from the Banner of Truth here, or Amazon here, and finally Christianbook here.