Category Archives: Resources

Must-Have NT Commentary Set

There are questions that I wish people would ask.  Questions like:  “If I had the means, what one set of New Testament commentaries should I purchase?”  I’ve never been asked that.  But it’s a great question and perhaps answering it will lead to some people actually thinking about it and then following up on it.

One possible answer would be John Calvin’s commentaries.  I love John Calvin’s expositions of Scripture.  I often refer to them.  Even after nearly 500 years, Calvin almost always has something valuable to offer.  But…there are three things that put Calvin in second place.  First, it’s not complete.  Calvin didn’t produce a commentary on the book of Revelation (in the Old Testament he also missed Judges, Samuel-Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Songs).  Second, when it came to the synoptic gospels (Matthew-Luke), he chose to work with a “harmony” method, rather than commenting on each book individually.  That has its advantages, but it can be difficult to find commentary on a particular passage in those books.  Third, Calvin was commenting nearly a half millennium ago.  He worked in literary Latin or French and had a rhetorical style with which many people today struggle to readily connect, even when he’s translated into English.  So Calvin is great, but would not be my first recommendation.

My first recommendation is the New Testament Commentary set produced by William Hendriksen and Simon Kistemaker.  Hendriksen (1900-1982) was a Christian Reformed minister.  He also served as a New Testament professor at Calvin Theological Seminary from 1942-1952.  The first volume of his New Testament Commentary was on the Gospel of John and it appeared in 1953.  He later wrote volumes on about half of the books on the New Testament.  After his death in 1982, Simon Kistemaker began the work of completing the set.  Also with a Christian Reformed background, Kistemaker served as a professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi.  He wrote the volumes on Acts, 1-2 Corinthians, Hebrews, and James-Revelation.

Why would I recommend this commentary set?  First, it is complete, covering the entire New Testament verse by verse.  Second, it is written with exceptional clarity.  Both Hendriksen and Kistemaker were scholars and gifted communicators.  The average person in the pew shouldn’t struggle with these volumes.  Third, most importantly of all, Hendriksen and Kistemaker had a high view of Scripture.  They were Reformed in their theological perspective, confessional men.  Consequently, the New Testament Commentary set is trustworthy.

When I say that it’s reliable, I don’t mean to say that I always agree with Hendriksen or Kistemaker.  I have my differences on various passages — for example, I don’t follow Hendriksen on Romans 11:26, “And in this way all Israel will be saved…”  As he typically does, he lays out several of the options and chooses for one, but I disagree with his choice on that passage.  Same thing for 1 Timothy 2:15, “Yet she will be saved through childbearing…”  Nevertheless, it’s not the case that the interpretations with which I disagree result in an attack on the Reformed faith.  They still fall within the pale of confessionally Reformed orthodoxy.

So, if you’re in the market for one set of NT commentaries, I highly recommend the New Testament Commentary set published by Baker. When I just need to quickly check out at least one reliable Reformed interpreter, NTC is my first stop.  It’s getting on in years now, but still valuable and still faithful.  It’s worth having on your shelf.

NOTE:  Sadly, it appears that this set is out of print.  That means you’d you have to find it used.  It’s also available electronically for Logos. 


New Resource on Women in Office

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.


The Shack

the_shack_film

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.”

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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.

Rev. George VanPopta has also reviewed The Shack here.


Bible Study Resources

Open Bible

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!


New Dutch Resource

I’ve added a Dutch translation of my book review of Paulin Bédard’s fabulous book In Six Days God CreatedYou can find it here.  Thanks to Jan van Meerten and the Logos Institute!  The English original can be found here.