Sam Storms – 10 Things You Should Know about Pelagius and Pelagianism

1. We know very little about Pelagius (350-425) prior to his conflict with Augustine.

Evidently he was a British monk who taught for a short time in Rome toward the close of the 4th century. He fled to North Africa in 410 (preceding the invasion of the Goths) and there engaged in his dispute with Augustine, the famous Bishop of Hippo. He later went to Palestine and then disappeared from history.

2. Pelagius was a prolific author who preferred written treatises and rebuttals to open verbal confrontation.

His writings reflect his excellent education and were characterized by clarity of thought and devotional tones throughout. They centered primarily in ethics and religious piety. The hallmark of the Pelagian literature was the insistence that all believers were morally obligated to high ethical ideals, not just the clergy.

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Chris Loewen – Gehenna: The History, Development and Usage of a Common Image for Hell

Of the four words that are often translated “hell,” Gehenna is the only term used in our Scriptures to describe the final fate of the wicked. It is used primarily by Jesus in the gospels, once by James and is entirely absent in the writings of Paul. The purpose of this paper is to examine the origin, history and development of Gehenna from the Old Testament (OT) to New Testament (NT), comparing the external evidence seen in the historical rabbinical ideas of Gehenna with the internal evidence seen in exclusively biblical development.

The following questions will be considered: Is there any biblical or historical warrant for accepting the popular idea of Gehenna as a “garbage dump” just south of Jerusalem, into which the city garbage, and dead bodies of animals and criminals, were thrown to be incinerated? Is Gehenna primarily a geographical term giving rise to eschatology cast in spatial language, or is there development that takes us beyond the basic geographical meaning? What this paper hopes to accomplish is to give clarity to the meaning of Gehenna in its historical context, which will help us discern its overall usage throughout the NT.

Origin of Gehenna

The Greek Gehenna is a transliteration of the Hebrew phrase Ge-hinnom which, in a handful of variations throughout the OT, functions primarily as a toponym or “place-name.” It is a reference to the valley just outside of Jerusalem “variously designated in the Hebrew text as the valley ‘of the sons of Hinnom (2 Kings 23:10), ‘of the son of Hinnom’ (Jer. 19:2), or simply ‘of Hinnom’ (Neh. 11:30).” Geographically, this “valley was located south-southwest of Jerusalem, and it adjoined the Kidron valley which lay to the south-southeast of the city.” It was a “deep and yawning gorge that never [contained] water,” and a valley that descended “over six hundred feet from its original source.” In Jerusalem today, it is known as “Wadi er-Rababi.”

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Joel Beeke – My Indebtedness to the Puritans

My life has been profoundly shaped and enriched by men who died long ago, but whose ministries live on through their books. As a theologian, I have read a lot of books about the teachings of the Bible, but none affect me more than the writings of the Puritans (and its parallel movement in the Netherlands, the Dutch Further Reformation).

As a young man, I found myself nourished by the writings of Thomas Goodwin, whose books about Christ the Mediator and Christ’s compassionate heart in heaven deeply moved me with faith and love for Christ. In my adult years, some of my favorite books have been Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, a combination of Reformed theology and ethics written in a warmly experiential tone; Anthony Burgess, Spiritual Refining, a classic on recognizing God’s saving work in our lives; and The Letters of Samuel Rutherford, letters full of meditations on the beauty of Christ by a man who suffered much for Him.

While there are many ways that the Bible-saturated books of the Puritans have influenced me, I would like to highlight three special lessons I have learned from them about experiential, practical Christian living.

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Michael Haykin – 10 Things You Should Know about Athanasius

1. He was the great early Christian defender of the full deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Humanly speaking, his defense of the deity of Christ as it had been confessed in the Nicene Creed of 325 and then subsequently developed in a number of his tracts and treatises was singularly used by God to preserve this fundamental Christian truth.

2. He attended the Council of Nicea in 325.

Probably born into a Christian home in Alexandria around the turn of the fourth century—likely no earlier than 299 AD—Athanasius was ordained a deacon in Alexandria in the 320s and, in this capacity, attended the Council of Nicaea in 325. This ecumenical council was called to resolve the theological crisis raised by the teaching of the Alexandrian elder Arius that Christ was created by God. Contrary to the assertions of some, it is unlikely that Athanasius said anything in a formal capacity at the council—that would have been the prerogative of his bishop, Alexander.

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Simonetta Carr -William Tyndale and Sola Scriptura

William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament, first published in 1526, was met with sharp disapproval in England – not only because it was common knowledge that Scriptures should not be placed in the hands of the uneducated masses, but also because of the translation itself.

Translating “congregation” instead of “church,” “superior” instead of “priest,” and “repentance” instead of “penance” was to have potentially huge consequences on the Church’s doctrine. For example, penance implied an action performed by the sinner for the remission of his or her sins, but repentance could simply be an admission of guilt and turning of the heart. It would have dismantled many of the Church’s “remedies” for sin, such as confession to a priest, pilgrimages, and indulgences.

Tyndale stood by his translation. He had an excellent knowledge of both Greek and the Scriptures, and knew enough of the history of the church to see how these “remedies” had developed throughout time in response to a felt need.

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Erroll Hulse – The Story of the Puritans

The Relevance of the Puritans

Who were the Puritans? When did they live? What did they accomplish? What did they teach? History is not a popular subject. We cannot assume that those who are British are automatically well-educated in English history. It is rare for those outside Britain to know English history. How can we introduce overseas Christians to the best theological inheritance ever?

My concern extends beyond narrating the story. I want to create enthusiasm for the Puritans in order to profit from their practical example and benefit from their unique balance of doctrine, experience, and practice. The Puritans were men of deep theological understanding and vision who prayed for the earth to be filled with a knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

Today missionaries are involved as never before in taking the Gospel to all the world. Bible-based Christianity is spreading gradually in most of the 240 nations of the world. Believers have multiplied in great numbers, especially in sub-Sahara Africa, the Far East, and South America. Teaching which engenders holy living and stability is vastly needed. Historically the Puritan epoch is best able to supply this need for they were strongest where the churches in general are weakest today.

In face of the philosophic and religious trends of today, the Puritans are certainly relevant.

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Amy Mantravadi – History: Why Read It?

Why should history have to make a case for itself? No one questions why we should study mathematics or science. The humanities are always having to justify their existence in a way that is not expected of other disciplines. Even so, I do not mind the question — either as a writer of historical fiction or a student of historic theology — because I believe that studying history provides many benefits to us, not only as human beings, but specifically as Christians.

1. History reveals the depravity of man.

I once worked on a social science research survey where I was required to ask young people whether they believed that human beings were basically good. Nearly all of them, regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, or religious beliefs, answered that we are basically good. Scripture, on the other hand, suggests that human beings tend toward evil apart from the grace of God.

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Michael Boling – Thoughts from the Theocratic Kingdom (Vol. 2): Proposition 136


In Proposition 136, George Peters states:

“The doctrine of the Kingdom in agreement with the doctrine of the intermediate state.”

Peters does not promote a particular view of the intermediate state in this Proposition, but rather simply makes the point that the reality of an intermediate state confirms and is in agreement with the doctrine of the Kingdom. The very fact there is an intermediate state suggests at a bare minimum there is a final state, one in which fullness is achieved. If there is to be a final state, which Peters suggest and I agree is taught throughout Scripture, the existence of an intermediate state is a declaration of a final state with that final state being the established of the Theocratic Kingdom. Again, this reality is irrespective to what position one may hold regards the specifics of what the intermediate state looks like. The existence of the intermediate state is what is being noted in this Proposition.

The most notable observation Peters presents in Proposition 136 is the following:

“The Jewish view must be considered by the student. This, as stated by numerous authorities, was decided, viz., that the Patriarchs and their deceased descendants, that all who had died true Israelites, were only to be raised to glory and covenanted promises at the Coming of the Messiah. Whatever differences of opinion existed as the actual condition of dead ones, all were united in the common view that at the Advent of the promised David’s Son, then, and then only, would the promises of God respecting a glorioius Salvation be completed. The abundance of quotations already given under previous Propositions fully show this faith. But now observe that this identical Jewish faith is incorporated in the New Test. and in the Early Church, with this difference, that what the Jews attributed to the First Advent of the Messiah, the New Test. and Early Church applied to the Second Advent of Jesus the Messiah.”

I am pleased to see Peters repeatedly bring all of Scripture together in his observations, especially when it comes to the topic of the intermediate state. It is often promoted that the Old Testament has very little to say about the nature of death, the intermediate state, or the hope of the resurrection. While that is certainly debatible and I would suggest incorrect at best, Peters aptly brings to light an important issue, that of how the Jewish view (i.e. the Old Testament) is reflected in the writings of the New Testament and in turn, the teaching of the Early Church.

Now I will state that Jewish intertestamental thought on the intermediate state was varied as evidenced by the writings of the period. Additionally, the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees differed on the topic of the resurrection from the dead among other things. Additionally, the Messianic expectation of the religious leaders during the time of Jesus was such they expected the Messiah to established the Theocratic-Kingdom at the time of what we call the First Advent. With all that said, there was an overarching hope and belief in the coming Kingdom and a belief rooted in the Old Testament that the intermediate state was not the end of all things. Death would be dealt with and God would establish His Kingdom forever. The teaching of the New Testament and the Early Church properly notes the timing of these events to be at the Second Advent, something perhaps the Jewish leaders did not understand but is nevertheless a consistent teaching in Scripture.

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Book Review – Irenaeus of Lyon (Christian Biographies for Young Readers)

There are very few authors for whom I get excited to see a new book release hit the shelves. One such author is Simonetta Carr. Anyone not familiar with her books is truly missing out on what I humbly submit are valuable reading treasures. Her most recent book which is part of the continuing Christian Biographies for Young Readers Series, title Irenaeus of Lyon, is no exception.

What continues to stand out most for me with this overall series to include this most title are the beautiful illustrations and pictures contained throughout the book. Let’s face it. History related books can be somewhat boring. Given the target audience for this series, namely young readers, including wonderfully drawn and informative illustrations and pictures which provide the reader a visual grasp of the information is noteworthy.

Furthermore, providing a helpful overview of such an important church figure as Irenaeus is an excellent addition to this series of books. I would venture to say a majority of adult believers either have never heard of Irenaeus or they only have a passing understanding of his impact. This lack of knowledge is quite unfortunate. Thus, providing young readers with a solid understanding of the life, times, and influence of Irenaeus on church history is vitally important.

Carr’s book hits a homerun by enabling young readers to consume a well-rounded overview of Irenaeus without bogging them down to the point where these young minds will become bored and disinterested with the material. Carr once again writes with her audience well in mind and does so rather amazingly.

I highly recommend this book, especially for families who homeschool or for homeschool associations who may offer group classes for their members. This book would make an excellent addition to a homeschool bible and/or world history curriculum.

So Simonetta Carr…with this latest release you have me on the edge of my seat anxiously waiting for what you have next for us in this awesome series.

I received this book for free from Reformation Heritage Books via Cross Focused Reviews and the opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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