White Horse Inn Blog

Know what you believe and why you believe it

There are a few more dead guys to read now!

Reformational Christianity has been characterized as a “Religion of the Book.” Not only does this apply to the highest view of Scripture, but it also means that we publish our thoughts and ideas for the masses to read. The Reformation that swept through Europe in the 16th century was, in large part, fueled by the printing press and the ability for people to be “taught by” the first generation of Reformers through their writings.

In the centuries that followed Luther and Calvin, their successors continued to write volumes concerning Scripture and the fundamental truths of the Reformation. However, many of those works were written into Latin and other languages not known to our current English-speaking theological culture. We have much to learn from our forefathers in the faith, if only we could read them!

Recently there has been a group of scholars and pastors who have undertaken the task of translating these previously hidden works of Classic Reformed theologians into English-most for the first time. These works are being published in the series “Classic Reformed Theology” published by Reformation Heritage Books. Currently there are two volumes that have been released, but many others are in varying stages of production.

These works promise to be great value not only to scholars and pastors, but also to lay-people who want to have a deeper understanding of the Reformed tradition as it was formulated and articulated by the first generations of Reformers.

Here are the two volumes that have been released thus far:

  • Caspar Olevianus, An Exposition of the Apostles’ Creed (Purchase here)
  • William Ames, A Sketch of the Christian’s Catechism (Purchase here)

One of the editors of the series, R. Scott Clark (a WHI guest and contributor to MR), was recently interviewed concerning the series on the Office Hours podcast of Westminster Seminary California. Information concerning that audio can be found here.

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Five for Friday: The Robert Morrison Project

Five for Friday is an occasional interview series on the WHI blog that features Reformation pacesetters: those who are actively bringing Reformation into their own circles.  In this edition, we’re talking to the people behind the Robert Morrison Project, a nonprofit publishing enterprise dedicated to legal publication of Christian books in China.

What is the Robert Morrison Project?

Starting about ten years ago it became possible to legally publish some forms of Christian literature in China. Slowly, over the past few years, more and more titles entered legal circulation.  The door is not completely open but it is cracked open and some good quality Reformed titles are being published and distributed in China. Most amazing of all, the genres of literature that the government has been allowing to be published are the very genres that Reformed publishers have been focusing on for the past 50+ years.  In recent years the government has been allowing biographies, old books with historical value (e.g. Pilgrim’s Progress), and marriage and family books to be published.  Soli Deo Gloria, Evangelical Press, and especially the Banner of Truth, are all extremely strong in these areas and have a large number of titles that have a good chance of passing government censorship.  With the church in China approaching 100 million members and growing at 9% a year and with a very small number of Christian titles in legal circulation, this is an opportunity that we can not ignore. Currently, neither the local church nor the Chinese Christian publishing companies are able to self finance high quality translations in large numbers.   In most cases, foreign funding is required.  The purpose of the Robert Morrison Project is to raise funds to help lay the foundation for the long term, legal presence of Reformed literature in China.

What sorts of books are at the top of your list to be published?

Biographies and old literature with historical value from the Banner of Truth, Solid Ground Books, Evangelical Press, etc. all show great promise in China.  We will also seek to publish local Chinese authors.  All titles have been reviewed by an editorial team in China to evaluate whether or not they can pass government censorship.

What effect has the Project already had in China?

The Robert Morrison Project is only two months old.  So far we have not raised sufficient funds to finance our first title but we hope to do so in the near future.

What are your long term goals?

The English language is highly, highly saturated with quality Reformed literature.   There are approximately 35 reformed publishers in the US and UK publishing books in English.  In China, however, there is a massive publishing vacuum of Christian literature.  Our initial goal over the next five to ten years is rectify this publishing imbalance by translating and publishing 50 titles in China.  By publishing these titles we will be increasing the total number of Christian books in circulation by approximately 12%.   Another goal is to respond to the heretical literature now in print.  Currently, few titles are available to answer these authors. Looking even further down the road, our goal is to establish independent, financially self-sufficient Reformed publishing companies in China and Asia.

How can people get involved?

There are many things that people can do.  Most important of all, please pray!   Publishing a Christian book in China is often a very long, difficult process.  Typically, it takes 6 to 24 for months for a title to pass government censorship and sometimes the approval process can be rather arbitrary.  Pray that God would open the door for more Reformed titles to be published.  Tell your friends about us!  Place a link on your church or organization website to our website.  Finally, please consider making a monthly donation to this Project (we have 501(c)3 tax exempt status). Including us in your church or family budget would be a big help.  Income on a monthly basis will help us set long term publishing goals.

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Horton talks about “The Gospel-Driven Life”

Mike Horton recently talked with R. Scott Clark about his newest book The Gospel-Driven Life on the Westminster Seminary California podcast Office Hours.

To listen to the interview and/or to subscribe to the Office Hours podcast, click here.

To order the book, check out the WSC Bookstore.

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Judgment, Fate, or Providence in Haiti?

In a world which is so connected news spreads fast. I got an e-mail notifying me of a 7.0 earthquake very near Port-au-Prince, Haiti just moments after the event occurred. A magnitude 7.0 earthquake is large regardless of where it occurs on the globe, but in the Caribbean I knew it could have devastating effects–this is not an area that is prepared for such seismic events. Quickly reports began pouring in about the utter devastation of the capital city and the hundreds of thousands of people that officials fear have died.

It is hard to imagine as I sit behind my desk on a beautiful, sunny Southern California winter day that 3,000 miles away there is such horror, despair, and loss of life. But because of that interconnectedness via the Internet, I can see the photos and read the stories coming out of Haiti. My heart truly goes out to those people.

Many of you may be aware that shortly after this earthquake Pat Robertson reported that he knew the reason behind this earthquake: the people of Haiti made a pact with the devil to overthrow the French, and this earthquake is God punishing and bringing upon his judgment upon those people. Interesting. I am truly puzzled where this “pact with the devil” was recorded and where those treaty documents are! I did a word search in the Bible for “Haiti” and didn’t come up with anything. If God hasn’t revealed anything in his revealed Word, then we should immediately be suspect of somebody claiming, extra and special revelation. Robertson is famous for telling the world the underlying cause for natural disasters and even terrorist attacks as God’s judgment for this and that particular sin and here he is doing it again. (Dr. Horton has also reacted to Robertson’s video)

On the other side of the spectrum are people who are struggling with what happened, but yet don’t have answers. This essay is from a reporter who has spent many years in Haiti who laments, “And this? This is too much. How can nature or God or the fates or the universe do this to a country that has borne far too much sadness?”

This may sound strange, but in many ways this is a much more Biblical way of dealing with this situation! Obviously I am not praising Ms. Steber for her inclusion of naturalistic notions of “fate” and “the Universe”, but she did address her question to God–the Creator of the universe. It is pretty apparent that she is not a Christian or even a theist per se, but yet there is something that is drawing her to question God why this event happened. This, friends, is a Biblical response, even for believers. Throughout the Psalms the psalmists are asking God “Why?” Why are the wicked prospering? Why does it seem that you are so far from me? Why, why, why?

It is interesting that in Luke 13 there is a reference to something hauntingly similar to the events in Haiti (but on a much smaller scale).

There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-5 ESV).

Imagine that highlighted sentence as being “Or those hundreds of thousands on whom their homes in Haiti fell and killed them: do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in the United States?” How would Pat Robertson respond to this question? “Yes, they were worse offenders because they made a pact with the devil.” But how did Christ, the second person of the Trinity respond? “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Did you catch that? Christ said, “NO” where Robertson says “Yes.” Christ then uses this tragic event to remind his hearers that everybody is an offender against God and we will all perish one day; therefore, now is the day of salvation; repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!

You who are reading this right now may die today from a car accident on your way home. You might die of a heart-attack or in an earthquake in the middle of the night. But the fact remains that God has all the events under his providential care and that nothing escapes his control. However, we are not in the position to begin interpreting that providence. We can ask God “Why?”, but we may never hear that answer. Our pastors need to remind hearers of this and call unbelievers to repentance and faith in Christ alone because we have all made a pact with the devil because of the fall of our representative head Adam in the Garden. Our comfort in facing tragedies comes not from our self-confidence that we are better people than others, but that we have had our own sins paid for on the cross by the final sacrifice of Christ. We don’t look to our own righteousness, but we look to Christ’s perfect righteousness which has been imputed to us freely.

An event of the magnitude which happened in Haiti is yet another reminder to us that we live in a fallen world, and that every single person needs to be reconciled to the Creator God because, until Christ comes again, we will all perish in some way. But in Christ we have a comfort in life and in death that the world does not have, but a Gospel comfort that they need to hear. The Heidelberg Catechism starts with this beautiful expression of this comfort in its first question and answer:

Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own,
but belong –;
body and soul,
in life and in death –;
to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven:
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.

Because I belong to him,
Christ, by his Holy Spirit,
assures me of eternal life
and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready
from now on to live for him.

That is our comfort and the comfort that the people of Haiti and every person in the world needs to hear.

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Pat Robertson Speaks

If it were not so public (and doubtless, soon to be more so, as the secular media picks up on it), the latest inanity from TV evangelist Pat Robertson might be easily dismissed. However, once again the prosperity gospel’s strange brew has poured salt instead of salve into the wounds of the suffering.

In the clip, Pat Robertson attributes Haiti’s tragic poverty to “a pact with the devil.” This is no mere metaphor: Robertson believes that a Faustian bargain was struck with Satan, in exchange for the devil’s assistance in gaining independence from France.  Just look at the evidence!  Haiti shares the island with the Dominican Republic, yet one is poor and the other is prosperous (indeed, blessed with “many resorts”!)

What does this communicate to the wider world, especially to unbelievers who along with Christians are pouring out their hearts and financial support to these neighbors in need?  A passage from Jeremiah 23 comes to mind:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes.  They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD…For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened…I did not send these prophets, yet they ran; I did not speak to them, yet they prophesied…Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the LORD, who use their tongues and declare, ‘Thus says the LORD.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the LORD, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them.”

Michael Horton

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Been to a Fun-eral lately?

In the current issue of Modern Reformation Craig Parton wrote a special piece entitled “Funerals from Hell: Where Have all the Graveyards Gone?”. We don’t usually include our departments in the on-line version of the magazine, but for this exceptional article we have made an exception. It is a brilliant piece reminding the Evangelical world of what a funeral should be. Not a celebration of life for there is nothing “fun” about even the death of a believer. These are times of stark reminders of the enemy death, but an enemy that Christ defeated on the cross.

Since Mr. Parton had recently been through a couple of fun-erals and also buried his mother, he gives five very helpful points of advice to steer clear of a “Gnostic Vaudeville Show” when planning a funeral (either yours or somebody else’s). Please take the few moments to read this article, and you will be glad that you did.

“Funerals from Hell: Where Have all the Graveyards gone?”
By Craig A. Parton

Not to take away from Mr. Parton’s article, but Rev. Mike Brown wrote a great piece about this subject on the Pilgrim People blog: The Enemy Death.

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Horton Turns the Tables

Recently Mike Horton was interviewed by his colleague R. Scott Clark on Westminster Seminary California’s podcast Office Hours. Today, Mike interviews Scott about his book Recovering the Reformed Confession, church history, and the federal vision controversy in Reformed churches.

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Work at the Inn!

White Horse Inn is looking for an assistant producer to join our team.  This part-time job is comprised mostly of editing the recording sessions into the various broadcasts, podcasts, and CD versions of the show that are made available every week to our listeners around the world.

If you’re passionate for Reformation Theology, can meet strict deadlines, and have strong audio editing ability, please send your resume to applyjob2010jan@whitehorseinn.org by January 15, 2010.

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Brit Hume on Buddhism, Forgiveness & Redemption

On Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume discussed Tiger Woods’ recent difficulties, along with a brief mention of the golfer’s Buddhist faith.  But Hume went on to say, “I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be…turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”

http://tinyurl.com/ycq5hl8

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Mockingbird’s Favorite Videos

One of our favorite blogs, mockingbirdnyc, has a series of posts on their favorite songs, movies, and television shows of 2009. Jeff Hual, a contributor to the blog, also posted his top seven videos of the year. Here are a few teasers. You’ll want to visit the blog to see the whole thing.

Number 7: Rick Warren on the “Gospel of Doing”…

Pastor Warren explaining to his congregation all of the things they have to “do” if they want to get to heaven.

Number 6: Bill Hybels on “Holy Motivation”…

Pastor Hybels explains how getting angry and then using that anger to fuel a fervor for social justice issues is a biblical concept (who knew!).

Number 5: Megachurch Sermon Trailers–In Search of Relevance…

Ah…smell the moralistic therapeutic deism. Obviously, if getting into heaven is about all this doing that we have to do (as Pastors Warren and Hybels have asserted), then the preacher had better get busy with giving us some practical things to be doing.

Number 2: You Were Born For This? (From the Author of “The Prayer of Jabez”)…

Of course, if the Prayer of Jabez had actually worked for everyone, we wouldn’t need a follow-up book about how to “live a life of predictable miracles”:

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