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Welcome to the website for The Confessional Presbyterian, a journal for discussion of Presbyterian doctrine & practice. See our About page for background on the purpose and scope of the journal. We have just gone to print with our tenth issue and expect to ship copies right at the end of the year, D. V. Subscribe now in our online Store and also purchase back issues. To view table of contents for past issues (v1-8) see our articles page or the author index for a listing of published material by author.

 

The Confessional Presbyterian Volume 10 (2014) Contents and Editorial.

2       Editorial

Articles

3       J. Gresham Machen and LeRoy Gresham: Cousins, Confidants, and Churchmen

                By Barry Waugh

13       By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them—A Timely Admonition from an Ancient Narrative: A Sermon on Genesis 9:18–29

                By Joseph E. Rolison

23       The Gospel Work of the Diaconate: A Ministry “Proportioned in Number”

                By C. N. Willborn

33       Puritan Instruction for Profitable Hearing of Sermons

                By Andy Perry

47       McLeod Campbell, Edwards and Atonement

By Jeffrey A. Stivason

57       An Extraordinary Case of the Use of the Extraordinary Clause

By Barry Waugh

73       Stephen Charnock’s Christological Knowledge of God
in A Discourse of the Knowledge of God in Christ

By Jae-Eun Park

83       De Jure Divino Presbyterianism

By Benjamin Shaw

89       The Practice of Lent and the Reformed Tradition

By Roland S. Barnes

100       The Liturgical Nature of Ecclesial Ministry

By Glen J. Clary

113       Anti-Sabbatarian Scold: Thomas Rogers’ Letter
to Nicholas Bownd, April 29, 1598

By Chris Coldwell

171       Sic et Non. Views in Review: III. Westminster Seminary California Distinctives?

  1. Law and Gospel

By Mark A. Garcia with Response by Michael S. Horton

189       II. The Reformed Two Kingdoms Doctrine

By Jeffrey C. Waddington with Response by David VanDrunen

205       Reviews & Responses: Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Carl R. Trueman) 205 ■ John M. Frame, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Wes Bredenhof) 207 ■ N.T. Wright, Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978–2013 / N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Lane Keister) 210 ■ Sinclair Ferguson, From the Mouth of God: Trusting, Reading, and Applying the Bible (Jeffrey Stivason) 212 ■ Review Article: Wright on Evil: N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God (Jeffrey Stivason) 214 ■ Richard C. Barcellos, The Lord’s Supper as a Means of Grace: More than a Memory (G. Stephen Weaver, Jr.) 221 ■ Bradley J. Longfield, Presbyterians and American Culture: A History (D. G. Hart) 223 ■

225       Psallo: Psalm 57:1–11

228       In Translatiōne: Nicholas Bownd’s Sabbathvm veteris et Novi Testamenti: Commendations by Andrew Willet & William Jones

234       Antiquary: Nicholas Bownd’s Sabbathum Veteris et Novi Testamenti: or the True Doctrine of the Sabbath

245       Bibliography

   260       Author Index: The Confessional Presbyterian, volumes 1–10 (2005–2014)

269       The Editors and Contributing Editors

In Brief: : J. G. Machen and the Benham and Checker Clubs (12) ■ Excerpt from Machen’s What is Faith? (22) ■ J. G. Machen, Christ our Substitute (56) ■ Machen, Tyranny of Unbelief (82) ■ Defining Divine Right (87) ■ In Librum D. N. Boundi, De Doctrna de Sabbatho, Gualteri Aleni Pothumus (244) ■

Editorial, The Confessional Presbyterian 10 (2014).

Several years ago the idea for a journal committed to “confessional Presbyterianism” was floated. It would be published, not online, but with paper and ink in an uncommon ‘getup.’ The idea, both the theological orientation and unusual format, seemed at the time to be against the tide, and so it still does. It was obvious to many, however, that the church could use such a journal and so, because of a common love for “the gates of Zion,” the enterprise was undertaken. 2014 marks the 10th edition of The Confessional Presbyterian, and with much humility and gratitude we offer it for the glory of our Triune God and the good of His beautiful bride.

Is confessional Presbyterianism still viable? Is there a continued need for “a journal for discussion of Presbyterian doctrine and practice”? We the editors and contributors continue to believe so. To that end, we placarded J. Gresham Machen on the front of this edition because we believe he epitomizes our commitment to continue presenting the truth as historically mined from the inerrant word of God and summarized in the great Reformed confessional symbols. The articles in this edition call us to believe and practice the biblical truths upon which we rest. Such an article is the delightful brief from Dr. Barry Waugh taken from select correspondence between Machen and his cousin Leroy Gresham. “Cousins, Confidants, and Churchmen” will offer a familial side to the polemical J. G. Machen that is often overlooked, but important for a true picture of the man. Learning from Leroy Gresham will be most encouraging to pastors who find themselves out of the limelight, engaged in the daily chores of the ordinary means of grace ministry.

This issue’s articles broadly considered can be classed as studies in the areas of Church Government, Worship and Puritanism. One of the most pressing needs for the people of God in our day is to garner a renewed interest in ecclesiology. As we have witnessed something of a resurgence of interest in soteriological and eschatological matters, we desperately need to turn our attention to those matters of the church and her government. What was once considered a subject of no small significance is today, regrettably, considered peripheral at best by most professing Christians. While the work of redemption is frequently acknowledged as being of supreme importance to believers, the manner in which it is carried on in the world ought also to be of highest importance to the people of God. If we believe that the great work of God in the world is the work of redeeming individuals by Christ, and of carrying them on to glory through the care and ministry of the visible church on earth, then one of the best ways to honor our Lord’s work and to see it prosper in the world is to give ourselves to a serious and prayerful study of what His church ought to look like and how He desires it to function until He returns. The Confessional Presbyterian is a journal uniquely dedicated to helping God’s people achieve this end.

As is true of other theological loci, ecclesiology has both its theoretical and practical dimensions—that is to say, it is undergirded by biblical principles and guided by practical applicatory considerations. Three articles in this edition focus on these constituents. Readers will find Dr. Nick Willborn’s article, “The Gospel Work of the Diaconate: A Ministry ‘Proportioned in Number,’” to be full of advantageous historical, theological and practical insights on the much neglected office of the deaconate. Dr. Barry Waugh then gives us an historical case study on the importance of theological education in the Presbyterian ordination process. Finally, Dr. Ben Shaw gives us a clear and passionate plea to understand the biblical and theological principles of De Jure Divino Presbyterianism—pressing the reader to understand that God has ordained a specific form of church government and has revealed it throughout the Scriptures. It is our sincere desire that these articles will serve to strengthen your convictions that God cares deeply about His church and the way in which she functions in the world.

 

In the area of worship, Glen Clary, in an original piece, seeks to recover a theology of ecclesial ministry that is in accordance with the Reformed doctrine of the church. He argues that worship is a constitutive element of every form of ecclesial ministry. Thus, ecclesial ministry is inherently and pervasively leitourgia—the worship of God. He also examines the relationship between this liturgically oriented theology of ministry and the covenantal and eschatological dimensions of Reformed ecclesiology. Andy Perry breaks fresh ground in an area which has seen only scarce attention: the Puritan view of sermon listening. Mining the rich mountains of the Puritan tradition, Perry plucks nuggets of gold from the Puritans’ instruction to their people on how to listen to sermons for “maximum profit.” It is Perry’s hope that “a robust recovery of Puritan instruction on how to listen to sermons profitably may be the most potent antidote to so much of what ails Christ’s church today.” Roland Barnes surveys the history and background of the practice of Lent. In his article he shows the exact nature of Lent as a season of ecclesiastically imposed asceticism which was rejected by the Reformed wing of the Reformation. This recovery of why the Reformed tradition rejected Lent has important implications for the church today, especially in light of a renewed interest in the practice among Reformed churches.

Also in this issue of the Confessional Presbyterian Journal, the renaissance in Post-Reformation Reformed Scholasticism continues apace in Jae-Eun Park’s study of the Puritan Stephen Charnock’s Christological basis of our knowledge of God. While Charnock was accused by an earlier generation of scholars of being rationalistic, dry, arid, and abstract, Park demonstrates that this theologian’s understanding of human knowledge of the divine has been misunderstood because assessments have been based upon only one of his works, to the exclusion of another that elaborates on a Christological epistemology. Specifically, Park elucidates Charnock’s three-tiered epistemology with its natural, legal, and evangelical bases for human knowledge of God. God is ultimately and most fully revealed (à la Hebrews 1) in Christ Jesus. Additionally, Christ’s actual work of redemption plays a significant role in how we understand who God is; and finally, one who is familiar with and senses the importance of Christ’s work of redemption (with all its epistemological implications) will appropriately love, honor, cherish, and worship the Triune God. What we discover is that once again there is a wealth of theological treasure in the Reformed Scholastic troves of yore.

Jeffrey A. Stivason delves into more recent historical theological resources in his study of J. McLeod Campbell’s use of and rejection of Jonathan Edwards’ consideration of Christ’s penal substitutionary atonement. McLeod Campbell, the Scottish preacher who was deposed from the ministry and found guilty of heresy in 1831, authored The Nature of Atonement, wherein he sought to answer the problem of his congregants’ lack of assurance of salvation due to what he termed “modified Calvinism” with its stress on God’s righteousness and justice to the neglect of God’s love. He sought to address the specific problem of the modified Calvinistic doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement (as embodied in the writings of John Owen and Jonathan Edwards) by offering his alternative “retrospective aspect of the atonement.” Oddly enough, in this work McLeod Campbell both rejects Edwards’ understanding of the penal substitutionary nature of the atonement and takes an unguarded comment by Edwards and runs with it. Basically the Scottish minister posits the idea of atonement by appropriate repentance. Stivason offers a detailed analysis of the structure of McLeod Campbell’s rejection of modified Calvinism and his alternative atonement by repentance, and he provides an insightful critique that shows that the “modified Calvinism” doctrine is still the most biblical understanding of the atonement.

Chris Coldwell brings to our attention a historically significant clash over English Sabbatarianism from the late 1590s. The Elizabethan Puritan Nicholas Bownd authored an extremely influential volume in 1595, entitled The Doctrine of the Sabbath. It is generally agreed that the importance of this work to the spread of Puritan Sabbatarianism cannot be underestimated. Some charged that he was the inventor of Sabbatarianism, but Bownd was no innovator. He almost surely picked up his views while at Cambridge University during the 1570s, possibly influenced by such men as Lancelot Andrews, who delivered some widely influential lectures on the subject, as well as by his stepfather, the proto-Puritan Richard Greenham. The Puritan view of the Sabbath did develop and was refined from the 1570s into the 1580s when Bownd lectured on the ten commandments in 1585/86. Once he finally published the lectures on the fourth commandment in 1595, the work was so well received that the Puritan view coalesced around Bownd’s presentation of the proper understanding and observance of the Christian Sabbath or Lord’s Day. This view was later encapsulated and codified in the Westminster Standards (Westminster Confession of Faith, chapter 21, ¶VII, VII; Larger Catechism, 115–121; Shorter Catechism, 57–62; Directory for the Public Worship of God, “Of the Sanctification of the Lord’s Day”).

However, Bownd’s teaching brought him into conflict with a neighbor minister, Thomas Rogers, which resulted in what historians note as the first controversy over Sabbatarianism in English literature. There has been some controversy about this controversy, and a newly noticed manuscript letter, which Coldwell transcribes, provides some additional understanding. Historians have wondered why Rogers, a careerist conformist looking to gain preferment in pursuing Bownd, waited until 1599 to publicly preach against his Sabbath doctrine. This manuscript makes clear Rogers did not wait and had been hounding Bownd for answers to his charges of error for a number of years, which finally caused the Puritan to complain to their bishop. The result was this scolding letter from Rogers dated April 29, 1598, which shores up the sparse information known about the controversy and provides new insights into the two men’s conflict and Bownd’s 1606 enlarged edition of his book.

“Anti-Sabbatarian Scold” reviews the development of the Puritan nonconformist movement under Elizabeth I and gives biographical details on the lives and published works of Bownd and Rogers, the background to the latter’s disputes and contentious nature, and his attempt and apparent success in having Bownd’s work suppressed by civil and ecclesiastical authorities. What is clear is that the first Sabbatarian controversy in English literature was not reflective of some general anti-Sabbatarian reaction, but was instead a single opportunistic pursuit of Nicholas Bownd’s work by Thomas Rogers. What also becomes clear in a first time study of the transcription compared with a collation of the two editions of Bownd’s book is that the additions to his 1606 text were made in large part in answer to Rogers’ charges both in his 1599 sermon and in his scolding letter of 1598.

 

The discovery and transcription of this letter is a boon to the study of the development of English Sabbatarianism, particularly to the study of Rogers’ contention with Bownd, about which questions have been raised by his contemporaries and others down to the present. The letter is presented in transcription with notes keying to passages in Bownd’s text (a critical tet of both editions).

 

In addition to this detailed article, Coldwell, who is to publish a critical edition of True Doctrine of the Sabbath (D.V.), provides more background and information on the Bownd’s work in this issue’s Antiquary and In Translatiōne.

One other article is “By Their Fruits Ye Shall Know Them: A Timely Admonition from an Ancient Narrative.” Drawing on Machen’s classic, What is Faith?, Joseph Rolison delves into Genesis 9:18–29 and the account of Noah’s post-deluvian sin and the reaction of his sons. Rolison carefully deals with the matters of preaching the gospel to our covenant children and the need for a robust doctrine of progressive sanctification. He also addresses the nature of covenantal blessing and curses—both temporal and eternal—from this most important text. Rolison’s exegetical work, reference to the Westminster Confession, and Machen’s classic will certainly send every reader back to the Scriptures, the Confession, and to Machen.

While the offerings in book reviews are somewhat fewer than in years past, there are some very important books reviewed here. N.T. Wright is always a good sparring partner, however little confessional folks may agree with him. The Puritan theology by Beeke and Jones is a unique contribution to historical theology. A Baptist theologian writing about the sacraments as means of grace is a notable event. John Frame is a well-known writer in Reformed circles, and readers will want to know how a confessionally Reformed reviewer sees Frame’s work. A new work on American Presbyterianism will always be of interest to readers of this journal, and Sinclair Ferguson always has something of value to say. Unfortunately, not all the books this editor wanted to see reviewed could find a reviewer. However, the majority of the important books we wanted to cover are represented, with a few extra. The views in review section (Sic et Non) finally brings to a close the discussion on some distinctives of Westminster Seminary California. We hope and pray that these articles will help bring light (and lower the temperature!).

Finally, Todd Ruddell, who has been providing entries for Psallo since our first issue, presents a rendering of Psalm 57:1–11 for this tenth issue of The Confessional Presbyterian.

 

The Editors■