Review: The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity – B. B. Warfield

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An extremely helpful and clear booklet on the doctrine of the Trinity.

In only 30 pages, or so, B. B. Warfield summarises the doctrine of the Trinity as a Biblical doctrine, over and against the philosophical and analogical musings of some, and shows its transmission as uniquely through revelation, and is naturally indiscoverable.

Warfield looks at the ‘hints’ of the Trinity and then moves to more explicit pronouncements in John’s Gospel, the synoptics (particularly looking at Matt. 28:19 as its proof three Persons sharing the Divine Name), as well as the corpus of Pauline literature, and also the general epistles.

Warfield makes some sublime observations that really do assist with ones concept of the Trinity in Scripture.

For example, he provides as explanation as the why the Lord Jesus often uses the terms “Father”, “Son”, and “Spirit”, whereas Paul uses there terms “God”, “Lord Jesus Christ”, and “Spirit”, respectively, showing that the Trinity was being expressed in its relation to the author, in the case of Paul, and to each other, in the case of Jesus (who is, of course, a member of the Godhead and so speaks as One in the Godhead).

A concise text, it is absolutely necessary to look at his cited verses alongside the main text to fully grasp the points he is making. An extremely good resource for understanding the Trinity in the Scriptures.

Review: Confessions – Augustine of Hippo

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt.”

A book that needs no introduction, Augustine’s Confessions is a virtual must – read for Christians in touch with their history, especially those in the Reformed stream. Yes, there are issues with his sacramentology and, on occasion, his view of the Church, but I think one must remember several things when reading Confessions:

1. Much of Augustine’s views are formulaic in this work and not the product of consistent and further study. In fact, he openly states that a lot of ideas in the latter volumes of this work (books 10 – 13) are mostly speculation and he invites the reader to be charitable towards him on this account.
2. Augustine did not have the wealth of literature and study behind him that we do. This point is so vital, and many modern Christians forget it. Where were the systematic theologies of Augustine’s day? Where was the wealth of confessions and extensive debate that was easily accessible? The genius of Augustine is that he was able to do so much with so little. Information travelled slowly, and Christianity was focused on certain, specific issues in defining the faith, that a full-orbed theology is just not practical in the 4/5th century.

With all of this said, where Augustine was more thorough was in his anthropology, his view of God’s character, and especially God’s decrees and foreordination. In these things, Augustine is unequalled in his insight and incisive wit. Using his own life as much of the subject, and brutally honest about his own failings, Augustine shows the depravity and corruption of humanity and emphasises in a magnificent way, the grace and sovereignty of God.

Augustine of Hippo stands as the towering gatekeeper to orthodoxy and it is only fitting that we greet him on the way in.

Review: 1 – 2 Peter – R. C. Sproul

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An expositional commentary for laymen, Dr Sproul tackles the two epistles of the Apostle Peter with rich and helpful exegesis, while addressing pastoral issue in the text, both contemporary and historical alike.

In following with the other volumes in the St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary, the book is an edited collection of Dr. Sproul’s sermons, with each chapter being a small chunk of the whole text. The format is exceptionally clear: the text is presented in full at the beginning of each chapter, the commentary then follows and the verses to which Dr. Sproul is speaking are highlighted at the beginning of each subsection in bold. This, coupled with Dr. Sproul’s gift for teaching through both written and spoken word, makes the book incredibly easy to read.

The commentary is so rich and clearly written, that it would be a benefit to all Christians to read Dr. Sproul’s series.

Review: The Duties of Parents – J. C. Ryle

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct”.

This short book by J. C. Ryle outlines the responsibility of Christian parents by explaining the Biblical command found in Proverbs 22:6.

Ryle highlights the following areas – the we should train them:

– In the way they should go and not in the way they would go.
– With all tenderness and affection.
– Knowing that their soul is most important.
– In a knowledge of the Bible.
– In a habit of prayer.
– In habits of diligence and regular church attendance.
– To form a habit of faith.
– To develop a habit of obedience.
– To always speak the truth.
– To redeem the time.
– And beware of overindulgence.
– As God trains His children.
– By the influence of your own example.
– To realise the power of sin.
– To know the promises of scripture.
– With continual prayer for a blessing on all you do.

Ryle helps to show a picture of Biblical love, and no one of sentimentalism. In this, his view that you are to keep the sinful nature of your children at the forefront when bringing them up is of paramount importance. We must never forget that we are raising sinners who will choose sin at every turn.

The only real contention I had with the book is my disagreement with Ryle on physical punishment as a means of discipline.