Category Archives: Resources

Recommended General Resources for Elders

I created this resource for my elders and I’ll share it here too. These are just general resources about the office of elder — I haven’t included books, etc. that focus on specific elements of the office like home visits, counselling, or church polity.

Books

The Elder: Today’s Ministry Rooted in All of Scripture, Cornelis Van Dam.  Phillipsburg: P &R, 2009.  Paperback, 283 pages.

An excellent biblical study of the office of elder, with many practical pieces of wisdom scattered throughout.  Written by a retired OT professor from the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary.  A full review can be found here.

https://yinkahdinay.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/book-review-the-elder-todays-ministry-rooted-in-all-of-scripture/

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The Elder and His Work, David Dickson.  Phillipsburg: P & R, 2004.  Paperback, 129 pages.

Even though it’s an older book (first appearing in 1883), this one has retained its value over the years.  If you’re going to read just one book on the eldership, make it this one.  It’s not long, plus it’s both practical and biblical.  Dickson was a Presbyterian, but it’s not difficult to transfer what he writes over to a continental Reformed context. 

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With a Shepherd’s Heart: Reclaiming the Pastoral Office of Elder, John R. Sittema.  Grandville:  Reformed Fellowship Inc., 1996.  Paperback, 271 pages.

In every church I’ve served, the elders have studied this book.  It’s a classic.

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Called to Serve: Essays for Elders and Deacons, ed. Michael Brown.  Grandville: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2008.  Paperback, 274 pages.

This volume is multi-author, with all the writers being pastors/professors who (at that time) hailed from the United Reformed Churches of North America.  Tends to be more on the biblical/theological side, but there are many practical pointers and discussions as well.

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Faithful and Fruitful: Essays for Elders and Deacons, eds. William Boekestein and Steven Swets.  Grandville: Reformed Fellowship Inc., 2019.  Paperback, 306 pages.

A follow-up to Called to Serve with much more practical content.  Our elders are currently studying this one together. 

Websites

–The online edition of a resource created by CanRC pastor Rev. D. Agema. 

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https://headhearthand.org/blog/2011/01/06/the-shepherd-leader/

–A helpful blog post by Dr. David Murray on what it means to lead the sheep, applies to pastors and elders.


New/Old Reformed Apologetics Resources

As a 21 year old young man I was singularly blessed. My introduction to apologetics (the defense of the faith) was directly to Reformed apologetics. In God’s providence, no one told me to read Josh McDowell, William Lane Craig or even Lee Strobel. No, when I came to apologetics, I was brought directly to Cornelius Van Til. My first book on apologetics was Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith (Third Edition). I devoured it over the course of a couple weeks during my first summer off from university. It set my mind ablaze. I started telling everyone who’d listen about Reformed, presuppositional apologetics. You couldn’t shut me up about it.

How I was introduced to Van Til is a peculiar story. It involves a number of Canadian Reformed folks in northern Alberta who were enamoured with a movement known as Christian Reconstructionism. One of the planks of Christian Reconstruction is theonomy. One of the things theonomy teaches is that there is a continuing divine obligation for civil government today “to obey and enforce the relevant laws of the Old Testament, including the penal sanctions specified by the just Judge of all the earth” (Bahnsen, By This Standard, 4). As a young man, I was introduced to this notion and attempted to engage it critically.

However, another plank of Christian Reconstruction is the Reformed, presuppositional apologetics pioneered by Cornelius Van Til. I was reading theonomists and they often mentioned Van Til’s apologetic method. So, one day in mid-1994, I was visiting Reg Barrow at Still Waters Revival Books. SWRB at that time was not only the chief purveyor of Christian Reconstructionism in Canada, but also one of the best sources for Reformed books in general, certainly in Edmonton. At SWRB I spotted Van Til’s The Defense of the Faith. I recalled his name from the theonomists I’d been reading, but was also fresh out of my first year of university and licking my wounds from battles with secularists in academia. I needed this book.

After finishing The Defense of the Faith, I started reading anything else by Van Til I could get my hands on. I noticed that Van Til had students, some better than others. To my mind, there was no better student of Van Til’s apologetics than Greg Bahnsen, especially after I listened to his epic debate with Gordon Stein. I subscribed to Bahnsen’s “Penpoint” newsletters, sent via snail mail back in the day. One thing led to another and, after my B.A., I was even enrolled in the M.A. in Apologetics program at the Southern California Center for Christian Studies for a brief time. However, I didn’t get to study with Bahnsen himself — he died from complications during heart surgery in December 1995.

That was 25 years ago. Over this past quarter-century, Bahnsen’s work on apologetics has been available. Several books were published posthumously, including his magnificent Van Til’s Apologetic. Many of his articles on apologetics (and other subjects) have been freely available all along. But this past week, finally, after 25 years, all of Bahnsen’s recordings are being made freely available (previously only available for sale). This includes all his individual lectures and lecture series on apologetics.

At the moment, you can already download MP3s for free from Covenant Media Foundation here. Apparently, arrangements have been made with two other organizations to also host material from Greg Bahnsen, though the material isn’t yet available. One of those is the Bahnsen Project. The other is Apologia Studios (associated with Jeff Durbin/James White). My understanding is that these two organizations will remaster the audio recordings so they’re of a higher quality.

The other day I heard someone describe our day as a “golden age” for Reformed apologetics. Certainly the wealth of available resources is unparalleled. If you want to learn apologetics from a Reformed perspective, it’s all out there. You are without excuse if you ignore it.

A final disclaimer: Greg Bahnsen was a theonomist — in fact, he popularized the term with his Theonomy in Christian Ethics. By recommending him as a teacher of apologetics, I’m not endorsing every jot and tittle of his political ethics. Still, there’s just no denying the obvious: he was and remains one of the best teachers of Reformed apologetics. Van Til himself is heavy going for many people, but Bahnsen had a way to bring it home. Do yourself a favour and listen to one of his lecture series on apologetics. You won’t regret it!


New Dutch Resource Added

With thanks to Een in waarheid, I have another blog post that’s been translated into Dutch:

Hoe COVID mijn preken veranderde

Sixteen other articles appear on my Dutch page here.

 


I Recommend

This past week, I shared the following links on social media and I think they’re worth sharing here too:

Does Systemic Racism Exist?

That’s a provocative question in today’s environment.  Samuel Sey’s answer will stir up your grey matter.

When C.S. Lewis was an atheist…

This is an excerpt from Douglas Bond’s book War in the Wasteland.

Why haven’t we heard from ET?

Jon Dykstra considers the possibilities and comes up with what seems to me to be the most likely answer.

A Free People’s Suicide? — The End of Law and Order in the West

I’m sure you’ve heard the rallying cries of either defunding or dismantling police forces around the world.  What could possibly go wrong?  David Robertson provides some penetrating analysis of the spirit of the age, a spirit which is increasingly lawless and illogical.

Does the Condition of Your Church Facility Matter to Guests?

“I find that many church members take better care of their homes, boats, cars, motorcycles, and even their pets than they do their ministry facilities. Is this acceptable to you? It is not to me, and I suggest that the church (big “C”) wake up, take notice, and do something about it. I believe that God will hold each of us responsible and accountable for how we steward every resource entrusted to us.”  And even more than stewardship, this is about the gospel.  When we show that value the church and its facilities poorly, it reflects poorly on the rich gospel we aim to preach there.

Greed, Heresy, and the Prosperity Gospel

The White Horse Inn is one of my favourite radio programs.  This episode features a powerful interview with two ex-insiders from the prosperity “gospel” world.  Costi Hinn is a nephew of Benny Hinn; Michael Cerullo is a grandson of Morris Cerullo.

 

 


I Recommend

This past week, I shared the following links on social media and I think they’re worth sharing here too:

Return to Elevation

David Robertson takes another look at the ministry of Stephen Furtick.  Has there been more faithfulness?

Dutch Supreme Court Approves Euthanasia for Dementia

The Dutch are always a few steps ahead on the downward death spiral.  This is especially relevant for us here in Tasmania as the state parliament will soon be considering another legislative push on this issue.

How porn industry uses Disney characters, innocent-looking pop-up ads to get your kids

That blog post is as disturbing as the title indicates.  My first exposure to pornography was accidental — I stumbled upon some old discarded magazines in the bush.  But that kind of pornography hardly compares to what kids could get exposed to today.  Parents need to be aware.

Theological Cost of Evolution

Dr. John Byl reviews an important article by Hans Madueme on the theological implications of accepting macro-evolutionary theory.

Pro Rege Polemics

Dr. Byl gave us a second blog post this past week.  This one reports on a discussion about science and faith taking place in Dordt University’s Pro Rege between Dr. Arnold Sikkema and other scholars.