Interview with Simonetta Carr on her series Christian Biographies for Young Readers
From a young age, I have always loved both history and writing. I had shelves full of books, and many of them were biographies or encyclopedias about important people. I was fascinated about other people’s lives and loved to try to understand their decisions and feelings. Then I married, had lots of kids (eight) and homeschooled them for several years, so I naturally passed on my passions to them. We used history as the main thread of our curriculum and focused on all the aspects of each time period, including theology. At the same time, especially as the children became a little older, I kept my writing skills alive by doing some freelance writing for magazines about subjects that interested me. I think the experience of investigative writing influenced my style and helped me in the research for these books.
2. How did the idea for your biographies come about? When was it that you saw the need for making young reader’s aware of some of the key figures in church history?
The idea came when I was homeschooling. As I said, I wanted to include theology in our study of history and I found that the material available was insufficient. Most biographies were directed to older children and the few written for young children were often too limited for our studies. Also, many of them were written a long time ago, when there was a notion that biographies had to be fictionalized or children would not read them. As in most fiction, accuracy was often sacrificed in order to make the stories compelling. I realized that I needed something different – biographies comparable to those you normally find in libraries about presidents, scientists, artists, etc. I started to formulate some ideas, and tried to convince a seminary student at my church who was majoring in church history to take up the task. I even made an outline and sample chapter to help him to understand what I meant, but he never agreed to do it. Finally, I realized I had done most of the work and should just finish it. I talked to my children and we undertook this as a family project. They gave me ideas. We discussed everything – the contents, the format, the illustrations, the style… They showed me their favorite secular biographies. I observed their reactions when we read them together and noticed what caught their attention. Then we practically wrote the first book together.
3. What is the purpose behind this series and the focus that it is trying to get across to such a young audience?
The main purpose of the series has always been what the magazine Modern Reformation expresses in its motto, “Know What You Believe and Why You Believe It.” I tried to get a similar motto for my books, but I could not come up with anything better.
In other words, I try to explain to the children how some of the beliefs we hold dear today were shaped in history. For example, children might just gloss over my section in the Augustine book about his answer to Pelagius (or they might take careful notice, depending on their age and how the parents use the books). In any case, my hope is that, one day, when they hear a pelagian statement or entertain a pelagian thought in their minds, they will recognize it and connect it to that story.
4. Are you working on the biographies in a certain order for any reason? What volumes have been written thus far?
I started with John Calvin because it was his 500th anniversary. RHB indicated that they didn’t necessarily want me to follow a certain order, so I didn’t make it a priority. Augustine and John Owen are just two of my favorite characters. These are the three titles that have been published so far.
5. What volumes are you working on at the moment? Also, what volumes are plan for future publication?
The next title, which is completed but is waiting for illustrations, is Athanasius. I chose Athanasius while watching our children recite the Nicene Creed in church. I felt that they needed to know the story behind it so they could fully appreciate what they are saying. I have also signed the contract for the fifth book in the series, which will be on Lady Jane Grey, because it’s definitely time to include a young woman! After that, I am not sure. Some projected titles are John Knox, Jonathan Edwards, John Newton, Tyndale, and B.B. Warfield, but sometimes other ideas come to mind that seem particularly important.
6. What are some of the challenges you face in writing these books?
Each book has presented its own challenge. At first, the challenges were mostly practical – finding a good illustrator or quality photos and obtain permission to use them. With Athanasius and Lady Jane, the challenge has been to wade through the vast amount of myths and contradicting biographies (historical accuracy was not a priority in those days). It’s also a challenge to write about a character in a factual and objective way while retaining a compelling style. The key, in my opinion, is to reveal the character’s motives and feelings so that children will be drawn into the story. My absolutely favorite review of my book on John Calvin was written for New Horizons by Katharine Olinger, a (then 12 year old) baptized member of Calvary OPC in Glenside, PA. She wrote, “I found myself happy to have him (Calvin) find love and sad to watch him die. … This book isn’t just a list of dry facts you can get from searching the Internet. Carr addresses covenant children directly. She tells you not only what John Calvin did, but also what it means to you as a young Reformed student or child.” Actually, I could take her whole review and tell you, “Here, this is my aim for my books.” If I have come any way near that goal it has only been by the grace of God.
7. Who helps you with illustration for each book?
I have changed illustrators for each of my first three books. Emanuele Taglietti is a good friend of mine who helped me with the first book but was not willing to continue the series. I used Wes Lowe, an experienced children’s book illustrator, for the second book, but later found that Matt Abraxas, my pastor’s brother, has a style and a quality that complements perfectly my books. God willing, he will continue to illustrate the series.
8. What do you want children to walk away from one of your books learning?
As I said, I want the children to know these important men and women of church history in their historical context, understanding their basic theology and how we are retaining it today. In each book, I include some small portions of their writings to help the children to connect with the character and hopefully to inspire them to read more. My questions whenever I face a new title are, “Why is this character important to us, not just as a sample to follow? How did he or she impact church history?” I am also hoping to equip the children to answer some of the difficult questions that inevitably rise when we talk about church history. As I wrote my book on Athanasius, I kept in mind the next Dan Brown who will most probably show up when our children are older and tried to give preventive answers to the usual fallacies about the divinity of Jesus as a human invention, the Council of Nicaea being solely motivated by Constantine’s political concerns, and the books of the New Testament put together arbitrarily by some church leader who wanted to hide the truth.
9. In what way would you like to see the church using these titles?
These books were intended as a help to parents as they introduce church history to their children. My hope is that they are used as part of a wider study. Hopefully, the whole series will give a clear picture of the development of events, but other books that describe the progress of church history are also a great complement. This wider picture is very important to me. I am very consciously structuring my books in the hope that the main characters will not be seen as Lone Ranger heroes shining apart from the church. For homeschooling families, I am working right now on study guides that will help the parents to use the books in a curriculum, incorporating subjects such as geography, history, reading comprehension, and art. Each chapter of the study guides will also include more samples of the character’s writings, so these portions could also be read in family devotions. The scope of this series has also, in some cases, exceeded my expectations. I was told that in Indonesia, for example, where the books have been published in the local language, this series is popular with adults as well as children, as many are new to the Christian faith and appreciate some short and readable accounts of the lives of great men and women of church history.
10. Many of the men you write about left a legacy, and a number of their own writings that are still read, studied and used within the church today. In what way would you like to see your own series of children books be used throughout the years to come within the church? And how they would/will influence children for the ages to come?
Thinking of generations of children reading my books seems quite presumptuous, but RHB has definitely set up these volumes to be valuable keepsakes. The investments they have made in the quality and the aesthetic value of these books have inspired me to aim for equal standards in the text and illustrations. It’s difficult, however, to project how these books will be used. I hope, as I said, that they will continue to be useful to families. I pray that God will continue to help me in my research and to raise, as he has done, scholars willing to review the text and correct it as needed, so that the information I provide will be as accurate as possible.
You can order all three of Simonetta Carr’s Christian Biographies for Young Readers here.
A month ago I was able to interview one of my co-seminarians from Puritan Reformed. William Boekestein (M.Div., Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is Pastor of Covenant Reformed Church in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. He previously taught in a Christian School for several years. He and his wife have three children. He blogs regularly at Life Reformation.
When did you decide that you wanted to write a children’s biography? And then, with all the more notable options, why did you choose someone such as Guido de Bres?
The short answer to this is, I have young children, I love church history and our denomination (the URCNA) uses Guido de Bres’ Belgic Confession as a secondary standard of doctrine. From my vantage point the choice made a lot of sense. On the other hand, De Bres’ lived such a fascinating life that even without those three criterion he’d be worth writing about. In addition to this, it can be rewarding to “unearth,” so to speak, the history of an obscure personality from the past.
How has the story of Guido de Bres influenced your own life? What in particular stood out to you about his life that brought to light something, that maybe you did not see as importance in the Christian walk before?
I have been convicted and encouraged by de Bres’ bold commitment to Christ in the face of persecution. I am often easily intimidated by conflict. De Bres consistently preached the gospel knowing that a hangman’s noose was waiting for him if he was caught (and he eventually was). That has been a powerful testimony for me.
Can you give me a few reasons why you think children, of all people, need to know and read the story of Guido de Bres?
That’s a great question since de Bres’ story is a bit graphic. We geared the language toward young children and modified some of the images so they wouldn’t be too scary. That said, some of the themes of the book might seem to be too mature for young children. I address that concern in a note to parents on the last page:
The life of Guido De Bres is not exactly a pleasant read. The story is sad, and, in our age of tolerance, at times it is uncomfortable. Yet we believe his story is important because it really happened. In fact, it happened a lot! In other words, De Bres was not all that extraordinary. He was one of countless Christians who spent their lives in devotion to the Lord and in commitment to His Word.
We should say a few things about the graphic details and references to historical religious conflict in this book. First, the reader should know that every reasonable attempt has been made to avoid gratuitous, unsavory detail. It would be impossible, however, to tell the story of De Bres apart from the theme of suffering. We have also tried carefully to avoid unnecessarily inflammatory religious rhetoric. However, the fact remains that right up to the present, strongly held convictions will produce conflict. Even young children experience this.
Second, we don’t believe it is necessary to shield even young children from the ugliness of life as long as we also provide a context in which this life can be lived victoriously. Guido de Bres thrived in tragedy because he was hoping in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel (or good news) of Jesus is this: because of His perfect life and sacrificial death, those who repent of their sins and trust in Him have God’s promise of forgiveness and eternal life (John 3:16). As this promise is realized in our lives, we too will approach life with the same hope that De Bres had. We will be equipped and motivated to spend our lives for God’s glory as we look to an eternal reward of grace.
This is the value we see in teaching our children about Guido de Bres—not to glorify him, but to be drawn by his example to live to the glory of God.
Christ the Center interviews Daniel Kunkle, Bible teacher at Phil-Mont Christian Academy. The panel discusses Christian education and the issues involved in teaching secondary education from a Reformed perspective. Dan has been a Bible teacher, among other subjects, at Phil-Mont Christian Academy since 1979. He attends Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, has taught education courses in the area for a number of years, and has also taught courses in Christian Education for Westminster Theological Seminary.
HT: The Reformed Forum
Reformed Media Review had the privilege of interviewing Don Reid, former lead singer of the award winning country music group the Statler Brothers, about his involvement in that group and his more recent work as an author. Especially of interest was Don’s insights into the relationship of country and gospel music. Our listeners will be especially interested to learn that Don Reid is also a long standing ruling elder and Sunday School teacher in his home church in Staunton, VA. Jeff Waddington was more than ably assisted by Michael Dewalt, Dr. Stephen Nichols of Lancaster Bible College and Graduate School and Dr. Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY.
Dr. David P. Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Dr. Murray speaks about his latest endeavors in media and theology. Dr. Murray has started a DVD series that deals with such subjects as “Christian parents training their children in the right use of media,” and a series on “Covenant Theology.” Information about his projects are available at the website Head, Heart, Hand. David also blogs at a Posterous blog titled Head, Heart, Hand and co-hosts the Connected Kingdom podcast with Tim Challies.
Nick Batzig, Josh Walker and myself talked with Dr. Steve Lawson, senior pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, Alabama, about his book The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards. Dr. Lawson is the author of several books including Famine in the Land, Foundations of Grace, and The Expository Genius of John Calvin. Several of these works are published in Reformation Trust’s Long Line Profiles series. In The Unwavering Resolve of Jonathan Edwards, Dr. Lawson gives consideration to the way in which Edwards’ zeal for the glory of God guided his intellectual attainments. The greatness of Edwards did not ultimately lie in his intellectual genius, rather it was the spiritual and eternal mindedness with which he pursued.
(Posted by David Wheaton)
“Once upon a time in America, godly preachers shaped the worldview of the citizens of this country by preaching the Word of God “line upon line and precept upon precept.” No more. Now, the entertainment industry, the media, and the educational system, all with their humanistic, ungodly, unbiblical worldview, are the primary influencers of our society. Is it any wonder why evil is called good now and good called evil?
This Saturday in Hour 1 of The Christian Worldview, we’ll take a look back at the common distinctives of the great preachers of the past that had immense influence on America – from John Calvin and Martin Luther of the Reformation to the Puritan preachers of the 1600’s to George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards of the Great Awakening to Charles Spurgeon in the 1800’s and several more who revived the hearts of millions for Christ.
Dr. Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan and conference speaker with Dr. Steven Lawson at this past week’s Expositor’s Conference in Mobile, AL, will join us to explain what made these preachers so effective and what we need to learn from them.”
(Posted by David Murray)
My Interview with Thabiti M. Anyabwile on His Newest Title, “May We Meet in the Heavenly World”: The Piety of Lemuel HaynesPosted: July 22, 2009
A. Lemuel Haynes simply hasn’t received enough attention as either an important figure in American and Christian history, or as an example to us of faithful Christian witness and pastoral labor. There is so much to learn from Haynes.
Q. What have you personally gleaned from the ministry of Lemuel Haynes the most?
A. I’m gripped by three things as I study Haynes. First, as I try to demonstrate in “May We Meet in the Heavenly World”, Haynes was consistently gripped by visions of eternity and heaven. I really dislike that saying, “Don’t be so heavenly minded you’re of no earthly good.” That saying gets it exactly backwards. The only way to be of any earthly good and to make a difference for eternity is to be heavenly minded. At least that’s how the apostle Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit seemed to view things in Colossians 3:1–4. Haynes’s correspondence and sermons breathe the air of heaven and speak the language of Zion. That example is good for our souls and calls us to nobler, higher things of Christ.
Second, the Lord seemed to position Haynes between the church and the world in a powerful way. He was faithful in his pastoral duties, serving one congregation for three decades. But he also spoke powerfully to the issues of his day from a gospel- and Bible-centered perspective. He attempted to exegete the sacred text and the secular society so that the truth of God could be applied to all of life. Today, there are many who think that playing down the Bible or dressing it up in new clothing is the way to be sensitive to the issues in the culture. Haynes demonstrates that that kind of pragmatism is not necessary and that biblical faithfulness is effective.
Third, I’d like to say I learn something more about doctrinal preaching from Haynes. For Haynes, doctrine is for feeling and living and rejoicing and thanksgiving. He is precise doctrinally and fervently evangelistic. There’s light and fire in his preaching. I pray for that to be the case in my own preaching some day.
Q. How has Lemuel Haynes influenced your work as a pastor?
A. Well, first, he’s helped me to view pastoral ministry in light of eternity. I don’t know why my dull heart focuses so much on the dailyness of ministry, and temporal things. But Haynes raises my gaze to that coming Day when Christ shall appear and I will give an account and receive my reward. That quickens me, and when I keep this perspective in mind, it fills everything with a new and more exalted dignity.
As I said earlier, I hope his example of preaching his affected my own in some positive way. Haynes was also very missions-minded. He worked hard to pioneer missions and church-planting work in New England. He would preach right up to the week of his death at 80 years of age. He was tireless in the cause of the gospel; I hope to be so as well.
Haynes also spent a fair amount of time involving himself in ministerial fraternals and associations. He was catholic in the best sense, and contributed to the health of other congregations and ministers. He affirms that sense that we’re not to be in pastoral ministry alone or to neglect the wider body of Christ.
And I love that Lemuel Haynes was a writer! When I began work on African-American church history and theology, I was fairly certain that not much would be available from the earliest periods of African-American history, largely because many places had adopted slave codes that forbid African Americans from learning and writing. But in God’s providence, there are a number who nonetheless managed to learn and contribute significantly to spiritual deposits of Christ’s church. Haynes is one such person and his writings are helping a generation of African Americans to write and publish today. So, Haynes encourages me to write—primarily for the congregation the Lord has allowed me to shepherd—but also with the hopes that the Lord might make the writings useful to other parts of His vineyard and future periods of history, should He tarry.
Finally, his children testify that Haynes was faithful in the spiritual instruction of the home. He had grown up as an indentured servant in the home of a faithful deacon, who also led his family in spiritual exercises. I’d like to leave that kind of legacy with my own children.
Q. What are a couple of things you hope your new book will get across to those that are not familiar with Lemuel Haynes?
A. I hope it shows something of the contributions African Americans have made to Christian faith and practice at the founding of the country, and contributes to greater cross-cultural understanding inside the church. I hope the volume helps Christians glean from Haynes’s spiritual life in ways that are meaningful for their walk with the Lord. And I’d love to see others extend the scholarship on Haynes.
Q. In what way does this differ from your other books that deal with or make mention of Lemuel Haynes (i.e. The Faithful Preacher and The Decline of African American Theology)?
A. “May We Meet in the Heavenly World” hopefully gives the reader more insight into the man himself, particularly a glimpse into his devotion to God. The Faithful Preacher contains a couple of ordination and funeral sermons that teach us about Haynes’s view of pastoral ministry, and The Decline of African American Theology puts Haynes in the broader sweep of African American theological history. From the vantage point of history, I would argue that Haynes is a part of that great generation of writing African Americans whose theology was robustly biblical and orthodox. They are in many ways the standard-setting generation. As a pastor, Haynes is a model. But in “May We Meet in the Heavenly World” we hopefully discover things that stir us up to love and good deeds, that quicken our affections for the Savior.
Q. In the “May We Meet in the Heavenly World”, it becomes abundantly clear that Hayne’s formation in godliness was influenced by a profound sense of eternity and an unfailing hope heaven. Is this something that most Evangelicals have lost, and how can a recovery of this benefit us today?
A. I’m afraid many evangelicals have lost these things. I think it was David Wells who wrote, “God rests lightly” on the evangelical mind these days. A sense of the awesomeness of God, the fast-approaching reality of eternity, and the hope of heaven have been supplanted by a much more mundane, pragmatic, worldly, and ultimately hopeless form of thought.
To recover what Haynes and others understood so well, we need more doctrinally serious and fervent preaching, we need to major on the eternal themes and promises of the Scriptures, and to live more constantly in view of Christ’s return. We really must crucify that pernicious tendency to think that “we have time” and that the Lord is slack concerning His promises. We’re all too comfortable in this world and long for the next too little. And, yet, we’re called to set our minds on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Q. Lastly, if you only had a couple of sentences to encourage someone to read this book, what would you say?
A. If your thoughts and your heart has grown dull, perhaps a little complacent and worldly, read this book as one tool to turn your mind back to your first love. If you want to be encouraged by some consideration of what God is able to do with a life of great disadvantage (abandoned by both parents at infancy; raised an indentured servant; etc), read this book and trust that God may do even greater things through those desiring to be used of Him.
“This well chosen selection from Lemuel Haynes’s writings represents a significant part of the earliest African-American engagements with the Reformed theological tradition. In that tradition Haynes and his black contemporaries, both American and British, found a language of justice and inspiration that allowed them to criticize slavery and racial prejudice, and to offer a Christian vision of a free society. “May We Meet in the Heavenly World” can be recommended to students of Christian theology and of American history. —John Saillant, author of Black Puritan, Black Republican: The Life and Thought of Lemuel Haynes, 1753–1833
One of my favorite parts, and just might be my favorite part of my job is being able to read manuscripts from time to time from RHB’s Director of Publishing, then being able to interview the author about the book, before it is even released!
Most recently RHB published J.V. Fesko’s new title, The Rule of Love. At first I honestly had not a clue what I was to expect, some love book? Maybe some book on how to love people? Or maybe a book on how to love your wife? All of those was what happen to be running through my mind. However I was altogether wrong… And right.
I received the PDF document from Jay, the Director of Publications at RHB in order to conduct an interview with J. V. Fesko for you, the readers to read in dealing with with this title.
I was wrong in that the book dealt with the Ten Commandments and not something dealing with Love its’ self.
I was right in that the book dealt with the aspects in how one loves in obeying the law that God has given the church. The book may at this point be my favorite RHB book in print. For those that either do book studies, have come from dispensationalism, fundamentalism back grounds, or have a small group, this book is a great study, chapter by chapter on each command of the Moral Law. To add to its’ content, each chapter ends its self with a number of questions to answer with your friends, small group, or your family.
From Westminster Seminary California,
“Dr. Fesko is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. He was ordained as a church planter in 1998 and was installed as a pastor in 2003, thus serving in pastoral ministry for over ten years. He has also taught systematic theology for Reformed Theological Seminary for over eight years as a part-time professor. He has served on two committees appointed by the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. His present research interests include the integration of biblical and systematic theology, soteriology, ecclesiology, and sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Reformed theology. He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the American Academy of Religion, and the Evangelical Theological Society, and a friend of the Institute for Biblical Research.
He is the author of Diversity Within the Reformed Tradition: Supra- and Infralapsarianism in Calvin, Dort, and Westminster; Last Things First: Unlocking Genesis 1-3 with the Christ of Eschatology; Justification: Understanding the Classical Reformed Doctrine; and What is Justification by Faith Alone? He is a contributor toJustification: A Report from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, and is both a co-editor and contributor to The Law Is Not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant. His scholarly essays have appeared in Reformed Theological Review, Confessional Presbyterian, Themelios, Mid-America Journal of Theology,Scottish Bulletin of Evangelical Theology, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, and Westminster Theological Journal.”
Q. You serve as the academic dean at Westminster Seminary California, and have written several academic works. Is this book written for the academy, or do you have something different in mind?
A. I have written this book with the person in the pew in mind. It is a brief non-technical introduction to the Ten Commandments that grew out of a sermon series I preached a number of years ago. I wrote the book with the layman in mind, something that a person could pick up and read a chapter in twenty minutes or so. My hope is that though it is simple and brief, that it gives the reader a glimpse of the profundity of God’s law.
Q. What is the significance of the title, The Rule of Love, and how does this relate to the Ten Commandments?
A. So often people do not associate obedience to the law with a love for God. Obedience is seen as a duty or obligation rather than something that is the fruit of love. Christ tells us, quoting the Old Testament, that to love God is the first and greatest commandment. However, we mustn’t forget that apart from Christ through the Holy Spirit, we are incapable of loving God. We must remember that God has first loved us so that we may love Him and others.
Q. We hear a lot of complaints about the removal of the Ten Commandments from courthouses and schools, but I do not sense much concern among Evangelicals about having a good understanding of the Law in their churches and homes. How can churches do a better job of teaching the Law and its proper uses?
A. All too often I think people are more concerned with what goes on in the world outside the church than they are with what occurs inside it. I suspect that people want copies of the Law posted in their local courthouse but seldom hear the Law read in their churches. Churches, and more specifically ministers, are called to teach and preach the whole counsel of God, which includes the Law. This means reading the Law during the worship service to convict the congregation of their sin, show their inability to love God, and how far they have fallen short of the glory of God. But then ministers must herald the good news of the gospel of the free forgiveness of sins by faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone. In this the people of God know they are free from the condemnation of the Law. But as they are united to Christ, they can also know that God has written the Law upon their hearts and that they have been raised with Christ to walk in the newness of life. In reflecting upon the Law they can know that not only has Christ fulfilled its demands but that through the Spirit He enables them to fulfill the righteous requirements of the Law by faith in Him.
Q. How can Christian parents do a better job of teaching their children about the Law and its proper uses?
A. It is vital that parents teach their children that the Law is far more than a list of prohibitions. The Law is so much more. The prohibition against coveting, for example, ultimately tells us that we must be generous with our possessions and give freely of what God has graciously given to us. However, parents must constantly point their children to Christ as the only one to whom they can flee not only for the forgiveness of their sins against the Law but also as the one who enables them to obey the Law of God. Lastly, if parents do not understand these things, then they will not model them for their children. In other words, sometimes children learn more from what their parents do rather than what they say.
Q. It seems there is a fine line between two equally devastating errors: legalism and antinomianism. What help does your book offer to navigate people between these two errors?
A. My aim was to show how essential a Christ-centered approach to the Law is. Apart from Christ, people often think that they can obey the Law—this leads to legalism. Apart from a right understanding of what Christ has done to free us from the curse of the Law, people often take a cheap view of grace—this leads to antinomianism, or lawless living. If we recognize our utter sinfulness and depravity, then we will never think our own pretended righteousness will withstand the scrutiny before the throne of judgment. Only Christ’s perfect righteousness imputed to us by faith is sufficient. On the other hand, if we recognize all that Christ suffered in bearing the curse of the Law and that He has poured out the Spirit upon us so that we might walk in the newness of life, then we will turn away from lawless living.
Q. In Galatians 3, Paul argues that the law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. How does your book particularly demonstrate this point?
A. One of the ways that I hope I bring this out is to show the plunging depths of how demanding the Law of God actually is. Though the Law is very short, it is very demanding ultimately because it is a reflection of the perfect righteousness and holiness of our covenant Lord. In seeing the great exactitude and absolute perfection that the Law demands, hopefully people will see how insufficient their own attempts at meeting God’s demands are and they will flee to Christ, our only hope in life and death.
Q. You emphasis the need to place the Ten Commandments in their redemptive, historical, and covenantal context. Could you briefly give a word on all three of these aspects?
A. It is important to understand the Ten Commandments in their original setting. What would an average Israelite have understood when he heard the Law read? At the same time, as we come to the Law, we have to realize that God never comes to His people apart from covenant. In this case, as we read the Law we must recognize that it is the chief element of the Mosaic covenant, a covenant to which we are not a part. Moses did not sprinkle blood upon us and we did not stand at the foot of Mt. Sinai and swear a self-maledictory covenant oath of obedience. We are a part of the new covenant—we have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ. It is our covenantal context that helps us to see the broader redemptive context—namely that Sinai was not the terminal goal of God’s revelation but that it is Christ. Apart from Christ, the law brings death. It is only through Christ, He who bore the curse of the Law and fulfilled it on our behalf imputed to us by faith alone, that we can look upon the Law as a friend. We must always take account our redemptive, historical, and covenantal contexts.
Q. In your chapter on the fourth commandment, you note that Sabbath observance is at an all time low. It seems many people in Evangelicalism see the Sabbath as no longer binding, and really as an unnecessary legalism. Pastorally, how have you counseled people who share or have run into this view?
A. Over the years I have tried to show people what it means to receive a foretaste of the eternal rest to come, of heaven itself. Each and every Lord’s Day (Sunday) we receive a foretaste of heaven, of the eternal rest that we will one day enjoy. On that day there will be no labor, no selfish pursuit of our own interests, but we will be consumed with a joyful and exuberant worship of our triune Lord. If we allow ourselves to be distracted by worldly things, then we will miss out on this tremendous blessing. Moreover, if we can take time off from work to celebrate holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and the like then why are we so adamant about refusing to do the same for the greatest event in all of world history, indeed in the entire cosmos? The new-world creating resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
Q. If you had two to three sentences to give a “pitch-line” to sell your book, what would you tell someone?
A. I think Paul said it best, “The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 15.56-57). But if I have to come up with my own original statement, I’d say: “Apart from Christ the Law is death. Only in Christ is the Law silenced and becomes our friend.”
In The Rule of Love, J. V. Fesko gives an introductory exposition of the Ten Commandments. Beginning with the importance of the prologue, and then addressing each Commandment in turn, he sets forth a balanced and biblical approach that places the law in proper perspective. Throughout the book, Fesko analyzes the historical context of God’s giving the law in order to help us accurately understand the moral demands God places upon humanity. Yet, Fesko does not stop there; he also discusses the covenantal and redemptive context in which the law was given. Thus, he shows that the law is not presented to us in order for us to present ourselves right before God. Rather, it demonstrates our failure to love God as we should and points us to Christ and His perfect obedience in all that God requires of us. Fesko also shows how Christ applies the commandments to His people by the indwelling power and presence of the Holy Spirit. This is an excellent survey of the Ten Commandments that promises to bring about a more accurate understanding of the proper uses of the law, as well as engender profound gratitude for all that God is for us in Christ.
The Reformed Forum is going to have John Fesko join them once again on Christ the Center. This time he’ll be discussing his newest title, The Rule of Love. They will be streaming it live along with an open chat room at http://www.reformedforum.org/video. The Reformed Forum is working in conjunction with us at Reformation Heritage Books who will be giving away two free copies of the book in addition to offering a great discount on the book to anyone who listens to the interview for only $10.00 + FREE shipping!
Monday, June 29, 2009
9:30AM Eastern / 6:30AM Pacific
About a month a go, I got the chance to set down and interview Daniel Hyde on his newest tile, In Living Color: Images of Christ and the Means of Grace.
Thanks to Dirk Naves for putting together this video.
April 29, 2009 2:00 PM EDT (11:00 AM PDT): Dr. Cornelis Venema will be a guest on the program to discuss his latest book: Children at the Lord’s Table: Assessing the Case for Paedocommunion.
While studying at Princeton Theological Seminary from 1979-1981, Dr. Venema was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology. He served as pastor of the First Christian Reformed Church of Ontario, California, for six years before coming to Mid-America Reformed Seminary. Dr. Venema serves as President of the Seminary in addition to his systematic theology teaching responsibilities. He serves as an elder in his church and preaches on a regular basis. Dr. Venema also speaks and teaches in a variety of church and conference settings.
His special interest lies in Reformation theology, particularly the work of the Reformers John Calvin and Heinrich Bullinger. Dr. Venema’s most recent book, Heinrich Bullinger and the Doctrine of Predestination: Author of “The Other Reformed Tradition”?, reflects this interest. He is the author of several other books including But for the Grace of God: An Exposition of the Canons of Dort; What We Believe: An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed; and The Promise of the Future. Dr. Venema is a co-editor and frequent contributor to The Outlook and the Mid-America Journal of Theology.
Recently I interviewed James Beeke on Bible Doctrine: For Older and Younger Children a 4-Volumes Set published by RHB.
This is the final part of Dan Cruver’s interview with Dr. Timothy Trumper. Because of the length and richness of his answers, his interview has been posted in six parts. You can read the full interview here. If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers.
Carolina Hope’s next interview of a theologian is with Dr. Trevor J. Burke. He was originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Trevor earned his Ph.D. from University of Glasgow, Scotland. He has taught New Testament in seminaries in Nigeria, Wales, and the Fiji Islands and is currently professor of Bible in Moody Bible Institute, Chicago. One of his research interests is in the family expressions in the letters of the apostle Paul. He is author of the recent title Adopted into God’s Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor. You can read the interview that Dan Cruver has done with Dr. Burke here.
Ingrid Schlueter of Crosstalk American Radio interviewed Dr. Joel Beeke concerning of his recent titles published by Reformation Heritage Books called, Striving against Satan: Knowing the Enemy: His Weakness, His Strategy, His Defeat. Dr. Beeke first gives a clear explanation as to why it is of utmost importance to wear the full armor of God and then explains how the believer can stand biblically against Satan. Dr. Beeke in his book, Striving against Satan gives the four main uses that Satan tires to trip mankind up. You can learn what these strategies are and how to defend against them in his well written book, Striving against Satan. This can be purchased at Reformation Heritage Books for only $6.50 (by clicking here). You can listen to his interview by clicking here.
Carolina Hope’s next interview of theologians is with Dr. Robert Peterson, professor of systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to teaching on the seminary level, Dr. Peterson has extensive experience as a pastor, including church planting efforts, and has preached in Uganda and Peru on short-term mission trips. His pastoral experience is reflected in the practical emphases in his systematic theology classes. Dr. Peterson is the author of Adopted by God: From Wayward Sinners to Cherished Children. In it he considers the beauty of God’s grace through the lens of the wonderful doctrine of adoption. You can read the interview that Dan did with Dr. Peterson here.
As part of Carolina Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Because of the length Dr. Timothy Trumper’s answers, his interview will be posted in six parts (you can read part 1 here). If you are interested in deepening your understanding of the doctrine of adoption significantly, you will want to take the necessary time to carefully read his answers. Part Two can be read here.
As part of Carolina’s Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as the believer grows in understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Dan’s fourth interview on adoption and the theology of it is with Dr. Timothy Trumper (you can read the others here). Dr. Trumper is a native of Wales (UK). He was converted at the age of 15 and felt constrained to preach God’s Word while he was as a student of politics at the University of Wales. He then trained for the pastorate at the Free Church of Scotland College, Edinburgh (1989-1993).
While studying theology Dr. Trumper he was captivated by the doctrine of adoption (Eph. 1:5; Gal. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:15, 23; 9:4). As a result, he enrolled in doctoral studies at New College, University of Edinburgh. It is there that he gave himself to a concentrated study on adoption. His dissertation is “An Historical Study of the Doctrine of Adoption in the Calvinistic Tradition” (Ph.D. thesis: University of Edinburgh, 2001). Dr. Trumper taught at Westminster Seminary from 1999-2003. He is presently Senior Minister at Seventh Reformed Church, Grand Rapids, MI. You can read the interview here.
Carolina Hope adoption agency has a series in which Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God.
Carolina’s Hope’s thrid interview done with another theologian (you can read the first and second interviews here and here) is with Dr. Sam Storms, the founder of Enjoying God Ministries. Dan Cruver had thought about interviewing Dr. Storms about spiritual adoption after Dan’s Brother Steve Cruver reminded Dan that Dr. Same Storms had written about it in his book The Singing God: Discover the Joy of Being Enjoyed by God (Creation House, 1998). You can read the interview of Sam Storms here.
As part of Carolina Hope’s adoption interview series, Dan Cruver is interviewing several theologians about the doctrine of spiritual adoption and its implications for earthly adoption. Dan believes that the practice of earthly adoption will be significantly enriched as we grow in our understanding of what it means to be adopted by God. You can read the interview here.
The second interview with a theologian (you can read the first interview here) is with Dr. R. Scott Clark, Associate Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at Westminster Seminary California since 1997. Dr. Clark has also taught at Wheaton College, Reformed Theological Seminary (Jackson), and Concordia University (Irvine). He is also presently Associate Pastor of the Oceanside United Reformed Church, where he preaches and teaches regularly.
Dr. Dave Garner is the Vice President for Alumni Relations & Educational Advancement at Westminster Theological Seminary. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the doctrine of adoption. It’s entitled “Adoption in Christ” (Westminster Theological Seminary, 2002). Dr. Garner agreed to allow Dan Cruver to interview him about Scripture’s teaching on the theology of adoption and its implications for the earthly practice of adoption. The interview can be read here.