When I teach the Belgic Confession to my catechism students, I now spend a lesson on the topic of women in office. I never had to do this before, but sadly, the times have changed. I’ve added the outline for my lesson on this to the resources on Yinkahdinay — you can find it under “Teaching Tools” or through this direct link. PLEASE NOTE: this is just an outline. Obviously, a lot more would be said in a catechism class than what is just on this one page. However, if anyone is studying or teaching on the issue, at least you’ll have a bare bones idea of the history, the relevant Scripture passages, where the confessions speak to this, and some of the common objections. If you want to dig even deeper, see here for a short booklet published some years ago when the Christian Reformed Church in North America was dealing with this. For an even more comprehensive treatment, see Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem.
Category Archives: Resources
I try to stay positive and focus on what’s encouraging. However, from time to time clear warnings need to be sounded about dangerous teachings. I am not one to use the word heresy lightly (see here for why), but when it comes to The Shack, it is completely appropriate. I read the book when it first came out in about 2007. People from my church community were reading it and raving about it. An uncle passed me a copy and asked me to read and review it. It was appalling. Not only was it really bad literature, it was even worse theology. This led my co-pastor and I to write a warning for our congregation regarding the book. This was published in our bulletin. Now there’s a movie being released on March 3. In view of that, I think it’s worthwhile to republish the warning that the Langley CanRC co-pastors issued in 2008 regarding the book. Today, I would just add that portraying God in any way, let alone with female actresses portraying the Father and the Holy Spirit, is a violation of the Second Commandment. As the Heidelberg Catechism says it in Lord’s Day 35, “We are not to make an image of God in any way…God cannot and may not be visibly portrayed in any way.”
From the Pastors
In a recent edition of BC Christian News, there was a front-page article promoting a novel by William P. Young, The Shack. It appears that this book is quite popular in broader Christian circles and has been making the rounds in our own circles as well. As pastors who care for the flock, we must be honest with you: this book is full of dangerous, erroneous teachings about God. It contains a perversion of the gospel.
This is one of those books were someone meets with God in person. In this case, two persons of the Trinity are represented as women. “Papa” is a large African-American woman. The Spirit is Sarayu, an Asian woman (Sarayu is a river in India invoked and venerated by Hindus). Jesus is represented as a Middle-Eastern man. However, there is also Sophia, an off-shoot of Sarayu. This book revives ancient heresies regarding the Trinity. One of those heresies is patripassionism, the teaching that the Father suffered with the Son on the cross. Another false teaching is found when “Papa” says, “I am truly human, in Jesus, but I am a totally separate other in my nature.” (p.201). God the Father did not become human in Jesus. That is the sort of mixing of the persons that the Athanasian Creed stands against. Next, we might also point out that the “God” of The Shack does not send people to hell – he/she has no concept of justice or wrath. Consequently, the grace offered in this book is cheap. Finally, the novel is explicitly Arminian (or Pelagian, which is even worse) throughout. For example, Young promotes unbiblical notions about the freedom of the human will. We also find the false teaching that the atonement of Christ was intended to save all (and going one step further, does in fact, save all). On page 225, we read “In Jesus, I have forgiven all humans for their sin against me, but only some choose relationship.” All these erroneous teachings are not incidental to the book but pervade it – and we could add several more.
Some have argued that this book is a work of fiction, that it is allegorical and is not meant to be taken literally. However, when the author was recently at Regent College for a book talk, it became very clear that William P. Young is not an orthodox Christian and his book was not written to convey orthodox Christian theology, but rather the opposite. Brothers and sisters, because the gospel is at stake, we are obligated to warn you: please do not waste your time and money on books such as this and please do not encourage others to read it.
You can also find a full review of this book at this helpful website.
A while ago, I received a request to provide a list of some trustworthy online Bible study resources. The background to this is Reformed people venturing out into cyberspace to research passages, only to be led off the track by resources that are not faithful. I replied to this request and thought it worth sharing here as well. The list below does not imply my endorsement of everything published on each of these sites. While all of these resources come from a Reformed orientation (all of them are managed by confessionally Reformed and Presbyterian believers) they still need to be used with discernment. We ought always to have the spirit of the Bereans, testing everything against the Scriptures to see whether these things are really so (Acts 17:11). Here’s the list:
- http://theseed.info/ — presently has 1384 Reformed sermons on a wide variety of Scripture passages and Lord’s Days from the Heidelberg Catechism. This resource should get more attention as a Bible Study aid.
- http://www.ligonier.org/ — the teaching ministry of R.C. Sproul.
- http://thirdmill.org/ — has heaps of resources, both regarding Scripture and theology. Some are at a seminary level, but I think a lot of it will be accessible to regular folk.
- https://www.monergism.com/ — a comprehensive collection of older Reformed writings, including commentaries.
- https://reformedbooksonline.com/ — includes links to dozens of online commentaries. Run by a couple of my acquaintances from the US, both solid men.
I know there are only five links there, but in those five links are thousands of pages of biblical exposition and other study aids. Enjoy!
I’ve added a Dutch translation of my book review of Paulin Bédard’s fabulous book In Six Days God Created. You can find it here. Thanks to Jan van Meerten and the Logos Institute! The English original can be found here.
One of the things I do with my catechism students is regular Q & A sessions. Rather than having me ask all the questions with them (hopefully) giving the answers, we turn the tables around every now and then. They’re welcome to come to class with whatever questions and I do my best to answer them. Of course, the questions are limited to things pertaining to the Bible, theology, ethics, church life — you know, areas where I might be reasonably expected to know a thing or two. I always enjoy these opportunities to engage the youth of the church and find out what’s on their minds.
Over the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a pattern. Many of the questions have to do with either the beginning or the end. Young people seem to think a lot about what we could call the bookends of Christian theology: protology (the doctrine of creation) and eschatology (the doctrine of the last things). I suspect that young people are not alone in this regard. Just yesterday, in fact, an 80 year old sister in the church approached me after the service with a question about the new heavens and new earth.
Today I want to share some of the material I’ve prepared on the topic of eschatology, particularly some of the sermons I’ve preached on it.
For my pre-confession students I’ve prepared this eschatology outline. It’s basically a summary of Louis Berkhof’s eschatology chapter in Manual of Christian Doctrine.
I’ve preached at least four sermons on the doctrine of the last things:
Mark 13 includes Mark’s version of the so-called Olivet Discourse. Is Jesus talking about the destruction of Jerusalem or the end of the world?
- Christ our prophet warns of the coming covenant judgment (sermon on Mark 13:1-23)
- The Son of Man will come with great power and glory (sermon on Mark 13:24-37)
Who is the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2? How can Scripture speak about his appearing first and yet describe Christ’s coming as sudden and unexpected?
- God reveals more about the day of the Lord (sermon on 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)
What about the 1000 years mentioned in Revelation 20? Is this a literal 1000 year reign of Christ? Does it take place before or after his return?
- The return of Christ and the 1000 years of Revelation 20: how should we understand these things? (Catechism lesson: Lord’s Day 19)
Some day I hope to preach a series of sermons on the entire book of Revelation…but since I just started on John, I think that will be quite some time in the future.