Monthly Archives: February 2006

Sola Scriptura Ministries – TBS Student Appreciation Day

Today Sola Scriptura Ministries International offered TBS students a hefty discount on their books as a show of appreciation. So some students and I travelled down to the Sola office in Guelph to pick out some books.
It was a wonderful opportunity for “starving” students (actually, we do eat and the food at TBS is quite good) to pick up some awesome books at an affordable price. It was very gracious of Heinz, the Sola Scriptura director (and blogger), as well as it was a good marketing idea. So many of our students will go into ministry with a warm remembrance of the great books they received. This is the best advertising you can get.
So thank you Heinz and Sola Scriptura for weighing down our shelves and relieving our pocketbooks!

In case you are wondering, I picked up:

Faith Cook, Grace in Winter: Rutherford in Verse (Banner of Truth, 1989)
Vern S. Poythress, Understanding Dispensationalists (2nd Edition) (P&R Publishing, 1994)
James E. McGoldrick, God’s Renaissance Man: The Life and Work of Abraham Kuyper (Evangelical Press, 2000)

As well as: Douglas Bond, Duncan’s War (P&R Publishing, 2002) as a gift.
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Anablepo – A New Blog

My friend Crawford Gribben, the founder of the Irish-Reformation group-blog, has begun another blog called Anablepo. When I first read the title shivers ran up and down my spine. Having just come out of a heavy test in Greek yesterday (given by this guy), I thought I was seeing things.

Here are some of his articles that can be found at the Evangelical Times: The Early Irish Baptists, Puritan Missions in Ireland, Cracking the Code: A Review of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, Rapture Crazy, The Puritans and the Return of Christ Part 1 and Part 2.

This blog will sure to be worth reading.

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Between Two Worlds – Mother Sues Over Unsuccessful Abortion

What a sad story. A mother in Scotland is suing the hospital that she gave birth to her daughter in. She had been carrying twins and attempted to have them aborted. While one twin did die, the other, a beautiful girl named Jayde, survived. Jayde, referred to as a “financial burden” should be dead now alongside her twin.
Will Stacy tell her daughter about her mom’s attempt to murder her? Will she tell her about how she had her twin sister murdered? Hear Stacy:

“I still don’t know if, or what, I am going to tell Jayde when the time comes. Maybe when she is nine or 10 I will sit her down and explain it to her.”

My God, may He help young Jayde come to terms with the horror of finding out that she had nearly never been born. May He help her when she finds out that she could have had a sister.
This is too horrible for words.

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Pneumatology and Ecclesiology

I am currently taking a course in systematic theology this semester taught by fellow-blogger Kirk Wellum. Although we’re still in the earlier part of the semester, the class has already proven to be both excellent and beneficial. Kirk’s whole methodology of doing theology is right in line with my thinking on this for the past two years or so. It is my belief that systematic theology should be heavily undergirded by biblical theology and vice versa. When systematic theology gets to be too philosophical or speculative, it loses its function as a Biblical discipline and becomes philosophy. Really good systematic theology should interact philosophically, but its grounding needs to be in exegesis. This is what Kirk has done in this course.
I think that a perfect example of the blending of biblical and systematic theologies is found in the history of Westminster Theological Seminary. Men like John Murray, Richard Gaffin and Sinclair Ferguson (and even Norman Shepherd. Whether you agree with him or not on justification, etc., his methodology still reflected this), are models of good systematic theology. When reading their works or listening to their lectures, it is hard to tell where their systematics start and where their bib-theo end. It is a perfect blend. You could easily say of each of them that they are biblical theologians as well as systematic theologians. (For more on this relationship, see Gaffin’s article Systematic and Biblical Theology).
I am very thankful that Kirk has uses this approach. Thus far, he has taken us on a biblical theology of Israel and the church. We have studied the various ecclesiological schools in the history of evangelicalism, such as the different forms of dispensationalism and covenant theology. He has traced God’s dealing with His people through the various covenants showing the relationship between Israel and the church. I am only giving a brief explanation of what the class has done so far, Kirk has gone into much greater detail regarding these issues and I believe that all of his students have been given a very good understanding of what it means to be a New Testament child of God.
I would highly, let me repeat, highly recommend this class when it comes around in the course schedule again. It has been edifying, informative and doxological. If you want to really learn something about how God has dealt with His people and how He continues to deal with them, Kirk’s class is a must.

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Darwinian Meltdown Over Intelligent Design


J. Richard Pearcey editor of The Pearcey Report has a great and encouraging article on the reaction of numerous Darwinians over the challenge of Intelligent Design. What’s funny to note is that a number of these atheists are wishing that guys like Richard Dawkins would keep quiet with their knee-jerk reactions to ID.

[HT: Challies]

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Cowboyology – A Different American Heritage

My friend and Greek professor has a very thoughtful post on the tides of “American spirituality” that erode contemporary church culture as though it were sand on a beach. Noting a recent article by Princeton professor Leigh Schmidt, Clint evaluates the trend of subsuming American culture into the church. A perfect example of this is the emerging church that Clint focuses on at the end of his post.
Written in a very Wellsean (is that a word?) style, the cowboy has again given us much to ponder.

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Blomberg on Ehrman

Here is Craig Blomberg’s review of Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus.
James White has also given an responses to various claims by Ehrman over the course of a number of broadcasts of The Dividing Line that can be found here.

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Victoria College, Univeristy of Toronto stepping up for "freedom"

Hey Nick, it’s been done before (and with better insight) so we Christians are used to it. Muslims might not be, but it’ll come. I mean, we do live in Canada after all; that bastion of freedom and tolerance.
A stellar example of freedom of expression, The Strand, a publication of Victoria College at the University of Toronto, has jumped on the cartoon band-wagon. The only problem for them is that they left one leg flapping in the wind. The editors at The Strand don’t want their readers to forget about the cartoons that they missed out on (by not publishing them), so they thoughtfully made up their own. Only this time, the cartoon depicts more than just Mohammed. To say that they depict Mohammed at all is a bit of a misnomer because the cartoon published by the chickens at The Strand only reveal his bare-back as ‘jesus’ takes off his shirt (while locked in a kiss, french style).
Of course, The Strand’s publishing of this “racy” cartoon is all done in the name of “freedom” of expression. Too bad they don’t really express freedom. Their ever-so-courageous editor
Nick Ragaz puts their stance plainly, “We’re actually scared out of our gourds of Muslim retaliation, so we figured we’d attack Jesus — we know He won’t bomb us.”
No wait, that’s not what he really said, but it was something akin: “The cartoon is a sort of Canadian statement on religious tolerance…This is not an act of hate…It’s controversial, yes, but it’s no attack…We will not be pulling the issues from the stands or withdrawing the cartoon from our website.” Thanks for defending our freedom Nick, you’re a real hero.
So, Ian Clary, at the uber-popular blog of Ruminations By The Lake, wants to offer his sincerest congratulations to The Strand for sticking up for freedom. Thank you for braving the terrain that only Ezra Levant really tread by publishing those dastardly cartoons — of course I don’t mean the ones of Mohammed that have set off riots across the world. I didn’t think you were a REAL newspaper anyway, so why should I expect you to publish REAL news.
(pictured above is that great defender of freedom, Nick Ragaz, the managing editor of The Strand)
***UPDATE***
Here’s the email I sent to their editor via the email link provided on The Strand’s website:
To the editor,

I am wondering why The Strand stepped into the foray of the cartoon controversy, yet failed their reading public by not actually posting the cartoons drawn by Jyllands-Posten? It seems that you want the infamy, but you don’t want to reap the consequences. Way to stand up for freedom of expression.

Ian Hugh Clary
http://ruminationsbythelake.blogspot.com/

I’ll post their response when it comes in.

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Hollywood Worldviews Review

My man Challies hooked me up and published a review I wrote of Brian Godawa’s book Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment at the WorldMagBlog’s book review blog Ex Libris. I had originally written it last July after I read it at Dr. Haykin’s house (Vicky and I were house-sitting for him). It’s really a great book. Here’s the opening paragraph to whet your appetite:

“…[O]ur goal should be to interact with society with a view toward reform, not to retreat from society, for retreat leads to spiritual and social defeat” (181). The overarching theme of Brian Godowa’s book is summed up in that one sentence; an encouragement for the church whose mandate is the transformation of culture. Christians exist in the world, like it or not, and though they are commanded not to become like it, they are to have an impact upon it.

Thanks Tim!

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Testimony of Glen Cunningham on the day of his graduation (April 2004)

This is the testimony of a recent Toronto Baptist Seminary grad named Glen Cunningham. He delivered this as an address at his graduation ceremony and it was subsequently published in The Gospel Witness. I highly recommend that you read it. The struggles that Glen went through with the loss of his wife, and the support that he received from many, including the Seminary, is incredibly encouraging. [I have added brief editorial notes in parentheses to clarify certain points.]

I am just finishing off my BTS [Bachelor of Theological Studies] program by the grace of God. I want to exhort some of you today with some of my own experiences through here. I have been blessed coming through this Seminary. I had been on the workforce for almost 20 years, working for a multi-national corporation. I was just a slugger driving a truck. I really had no business coming to study the Word of God, and not very well trained academically. My wife thought that I was kind of crazy trying this but she knew the Lord had been speaking to me and so she gave her consent and off I went to Seminary.

My first day of class was a raining day. When I got up that day I’d had the summer off for leaving Coca-Cola and actually had offers on the table to return to the workforce for the Company. It was very tempting, especially the first day when I got up to come to school. I was really nervous and wondering if I was doing the right thing. As I got ready to head out the door, I didn’t think I was going to be able to do it and there was this wonderful woman standing there by the door waiting for me. She greeted me with a great big hug and a kiss. And it was that powerful gift of love that helped me get through the door that day. So I hope all of you can remember that. That it is very important to stand by your partner, especially in times of change.

When I finally came down to Seminary there was this wonderful professor, Dr. [Geoff] Adams. He taught me a very important lesson even though I struggled in that class of Old Testament. He kept repeating throughout the class that there was no substitute for reading. I discovered that as time went on that he was absolutely correct. You can sit in all the lectures, you can take all the courses you want, but there is no real substitute for just sitting down with a book and starting to read through it and enjoy it. Not just skim through it fast, but to enjoy and savour it. It was a very important lesson for me because in my second year of Seminary (1999), my wife was diagnosed with cancer. I had reduced my workload. We were down at Princess Margaret hospital once sometimes twice a week. It came to the point where during her chemotherapy she had to stay overnight. So naturally, I would be with her by her side, and I would take my theological books down with me. It was not only encouraging for me to be able to focus my mind on something of a far greater hope than we have in this present life, but it became a tool of evangelism within the hospital itself. People would see me reading and there would be people that would start asking questions about the Kingdom of God. It turned out to be a wonderful time of evangelization for my wife and I.

After my wife had been diagnosed with the cancer, our church called together the elders and the pastors to come and lay hands on her and there were a few students here who came to be as close to me as my own family in blood. They came up and joined me that evening. It was a very unique time. I’ve never experienced anything like that before in my life. It was just so encouraging for me to see brothers and sisters in Christ come and surround us, my wife and I with prayer. At that time we were very vulnerable after being given the news of cancer; we weren’t very strong. We had begun to doubt, question. We couldn’t pray when we got the news. We couldn’t speak to God. There are times when we get hurt and we need just to be surrounded by our brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a wonderful time of blessing for us.

Some of the things gleaned here was not so much the academia I have been studying. I have learned a lot that way and become more knowledgeable. But I have discovered that it is not the piece of paper we’re given at the end of graduation that is important; it is not the lectures; it is not the marks that we receive. The most important thing for me was the fostering and the nurturing of relationships. I have friends now that are true brothers and sisters in Christ who are closer to me than my own family. I have friends literally all around the world now. Some of you are going to go through times of trials and it’s going to be your brothers and sisters in Christ that are going to be there for you. Praying for you and lifting you up. The greatest gift is the gift of love and that love comes through the brothers and sisters of Christ. I just treasure that love now. I am thankful that I have been able to nurture many relationships as I have walked through this Seminary.

One of the other blessings we enjoyed was the day of prayer and fasting. We were only thinking that maybe 25-50 people would show up. Within the first ten minutes there were over 100 people. It turned out to be 250 people. Many of them were young people. But the thing I could not help notice was there was people from different denominations. There were Presbyterians, Baptists, Salvation Army people. There were students from Tyndale, from TBS. I really got a glimpse of what heaven is like. It was very encouraging for my wife. And I grew from it to see the body of Christ coming together like that. It is something that I always keep in mind when I am dealing with other people.

After my wife had gone home to be with the Lord, it was a very difficult time, a very difficult journey. The day of the funeral was a very confusing day. You only remember fragments of that day. You don’t really remember the whole day in full. But I remember, about 15 minutes before the service started as I was trying to say hi to people I heard the voice of Dr. [Andrew] Fountain, the [previous] principal of TBS; and he said: “Glenn! Contingencies from TBS have arrived.” It was a wonderful sense of peace for me to hear those words spoken and to know that my brothers and sisters from the Seminary were there in support and in prayer. My family is here and everything is going to be O.K. Knowing that they were praying for me was a great encouragement. There were days, very dark days where you cannot do anything but weep. The first year particularly there was two, three day periods where you would just weep, hardly be able to get out of bed. It was very difficult, but knowing that my brothers and sisters in Christ were lifting me up in prayer I knew that we were going to get through this and the Lord would just see us through. And He did. I would often find times of refreshing and find times of strength when there was an assignment due. I can remember thinking I’m never going to get these assignments complete this time and out of nowhere I would be lifted up. I would be able to get up and I would start working on an assignment. That power did not come from me because I was down and out. So I knew it the power of prayer. And it was the brothers and sisters in Christ praying for us that kept myself and my daughter going. And even to be able to get a smile on her face again in this year. We still get those days of weeping. I still get them and so does my daughter. You just go with them. You just know it is one of those days and you weep all day. But I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ are praying for us as we continue to get lift up and blessed by the power of prayer. Just seeing the power of prayer through the believing body of Christ is a wonderful experience.

And so it was such a long, long journey. Indeed it has been a long journey for me to get through these studies. One year as I was about to quit, a missionary in Zambia, Dave Hunt came to preach at the seminary. During his sermon he gave an illustration that I took as a lesson for me. I think you can apply it to almost any facet of your life and that was the famous speech by the great man Sir Winston Churchill. You might only be half way through your studies but the road looks long and it looks like you are not going to get it done. But remember the words of Winston Churchill after they had been bombed. He said: “never surrender, NEVER surrender, NEVER surrender.” I would leave you with that, to just never surrender and keep walking in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Northern Alberta Persecuted Church Prayer Rally

For my fisher-friends in Alberta (yes, that means you Stauffer!), here is a link to an upcoming Voice of the Martyrs conference in Edmonton on March 17th and 18th, 2006. VOMCanada blogger Glenn Penner will be one of the speakers. It’s free, which makes it all the more appealing.

It will be held at:

Northgate Baptist Church,
13208 – 95th Street,
Edmonton Alberta,
Phone: (780) 476-5855.

Voice of the Martyrs is such an important ministry.

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Van Til on Scripture and the Mind of God

I was wondering where Van Til’s quote might be found? I have read a lot of Van Til and have yet to read anything like that. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t, but it certainly is surprising. If anything, Van Til transcendental argument establishes the inspiration and authority of the Bible as divine revelation. So does his hermeneutic. Importantly, Van Til heartily believed that the Bible corresponded with the Divine Mind. In terms of “analogy” Van Til did affirm that human beings reason “analogically” meaning that we are an analog of God’s thoughts revealed to us. No thought is independent of God’s, and our thoughts are not new. No human has a thought that hasn’t already been thought of in the mind of God.
A couple of quotes:
“God’s knowledge is archetypal and ours ectypal. If we realize this fact that God is the original and man is the derivative, we may safely apply the way of eminence and the way of negation. We need not fear that we shall reach an empty concept or that our knowledge will be subjective. Our attempts to say something about God then have back of them the original fact that God has said something about himself.” (Van Til, Introduction to Systematic Theology, 203)
“All his knowledge [ie. man’s – IHC] is analogical of God. God is the original knower and man is the derivative re-knower. Man knows in subordination to God; he knows as the covenant-keeper.” (Ibid., 167)
Speaking of God’s revelation in nature as sufficient to know God: “Full acceptance of these presuppositions [ie. the ontological Trinity, creation ex nihilo, man created imago Dei – IHC] requires us to think of the whole created universe as clearly revelatory of God…There can be no other facts than such as speak clearly of God and therefore of God’s claims upon man. Every fact speaks of God and speaks of him in the imperative as well as in the declarative voice.” (Ibid., 114)
Having established prophecy as a form of divine special revelation he said, “All these modes of prophecy were the beginnings of the work of the Great Prophet upon whom the Spirit would dwell without measure, who was himself the Word become flesh and who declared the Father unto us.” (Ibid., 127)

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Reading Gaffin

I’ve recently had the opportunity to go over some of the writings of Richard Gaffin, who is professor of Systematic and Biblical Theology and Westminster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania. For a few years now I have benefited from his writings, and am glad that I’ve had the opportunity to go through them again more carefully.
In light of some brothers and sisters who aren’t sure of Gaffin’s take on issues dealing with the New Perspective on Paul, I wanted to offer some of my thoughts on Gaffin’s article “Paul the Theologian” in WTJ 62 (2000), 121-141. I found it to be a very helpful read, not only because it is a review article on two monographs by leading NPP scholars, Dunn and Wright, but also because it helps me to see Gaffin’s own theology.
Because of my familiarity with Wright over Dunn, I paid particular attention to what Gaffin had to say and found myself in significant agreement with him. I have found Wright to be a wonderful writer and a brilliant scholar. Yet there are significant areas of trouble, especially in the book that Gaffin reviewed, What St. Paul Really Said. This was the first work of Wright that I had ever read, and I recall finding much in it quite troubling. For a while it deterred me from reading him. Now that I feel that I have a greater handle on what Wright has to say, I can benefit from the good and I can discard the bad. Gaffin’s appropration of Wright is quite accurate in my humble opinion.
What I appreciate most about Gaffin’s review is that he doesn’t write with a polemical bent. Rather, he attempts to deal with the content of Wright’s work, highlighting the good as well as the bad. Often when we critically evaluate writings of those whom we disagree with, it is easy to dismiss everything with one big generalisation. Gaffin however provides a model for young scholars (and old surely!) on how to properly and fairly evaluate a writing.
The purpose of this post will be to highlight areas of disagreement between Wright and Gaffin, not to demonise Wright, for I do believe there is much to be gleaned from his writings, but to release Gaffin from the perception that he holds to anything but Reformed theology. Because the review is structured according the chapter divisions in What St. Paul Really Said, the reader will undoubtedly get a feel for that monograph, if it hasn’t already been read.
Gaffin’s summary of the first chapter (“Puzzling Over Paul”) is fairly uncritical. He points out that Wright has profiled, in so many words, the history of Pauline interpretation in the historical-critical tradition. Gaffin notes the “yield” of this survey in four areas of Pauline studies, 1) it shows that Paul is a very “Jewish thinker” as opposed to being Hellenized, 2) Paul has a legitimate theology (that he is, as the title of the review says, a theologian), 3) exegetical concerns should not be divorced from theological ones and 4) how Paul’s thought can be applied today.
It is in the second chapter (“Saul the Persecutor, Paul the Convert”) that Gaffin begins to show his differences with Wright. In emphasising the continuity between Paul and his Pharisaical past, namely in his monotheism, election and eschatology, Gaffin takes issue with a few of the bishop’s claims. The first is that Gaffin doesn’t agree with Wright that Paul could be identified with the Shammaite Pharisees committed to a “particular agenda of Torah-rigorism and violent, eschatologically oriented political activism” that determines much of Paul’s thought. Gaffin agrees with Sanders that there is not enough evidence, one way or another, to figure out what type of Pharisee Paul was. Gaffin notes that this construction of Paul might well be more in Wright’s own mind than a historical verity.
To be continued…

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Libraries

Mwahaha. I have catalogued more books at my Library Thing account than Tim Challies has.
Validation here I come!! He only has 360.
:)

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I Got Flow

Vicky and I are going here for a belated Valentine’s dinner (I had class last night).

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Calgary Herald – University of Toronto allows controversial student-led debates on Middle East

This past week, a group of Jewish students held a weeklong series of debates called Know Radical Islam, and next week the Arab Students Collective are hosting Israeli Apartheid Week, with lectures including one entitled The Myth of Israeli Democracy. The discussions culminate with a protest in downtown Toronto on Feb. 18.

There are a couple of things that I don’t like about the above paragraph. For one, why call it “radical” Islam? It’s a misnomer. The term is used to differentiate between traditional Muslims, who follow the Koran faithfully, and those who are more western and peaceful. A better way to differentiate would be to call the violent Muslims just plain ole Muslims. The non-violent Muslims could be referred to as “western Muslims,” or better yet, “inconsistent Muslims.” Somehow I don’t think the latter will stick. In Christianity, if a Christian doesn’t believe in the authority of the Bible we call him or her a “liberal.” Maybe we should refer to anti-violent Muslims as “liberal Muslims”?

The second thing I don’t like is the fact that I’m likely going to have to hide in my house on Saturday because downtown will be teeming with protestors. With Toronto’s recent (read: year-long) spat of violence, and the violence that has been evident in other such demonstrations, there’s a chance that someone’s gonna get hurt.

It ain’t gonna be me.

[HT: me ma]

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Peter’s Death in Rome? Back to Front and Upside Down

I’m going to see Markus Bockmuehl give a lecture today at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto. The lecture is on the death of the apostle Peter. It will begin at 3pm and there is no charge.

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Library Thing

Well, I bought the full package of Library Thing and have been adding more books to it. I’m only at 246 volumes, which is maybe about a quarter of the books I own. So I have more cataloguing to do when I get the time.
Library Thing is an excellent program for keeping track of your books. It’s free up to the first 200 volumes, then you can either pay $10 US for a one year subscription, or $25 US for a lifetime. I bought the lifetime.
It’s good to have so that you can print off a list of your library for insurance purposes. It is also neat because if you’re in a bookstore and are wondering if you have a certain book you’re thinking of purchasing, you can go online to check your inventory. If you have your library listed, others with similar libraries can check yours out and contact you. There is also a function where you can display random books on your blog (which I do).
It’s also good for us book lovers who delight in the size of their library; although mine is miniscule compared to some people I know (without mentioning names!).
Check out my library so far and give me self-validation!!!!

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rushyama – Luther, Calvin, and Music

My good friend Ruth at Rushyama is blogging about the differing views Luther and Calvin had on music. Ruth is a student at the Royal Conservatory of Music (she’s a harpist), and has to do a paper for her music history class. She has decided to look at the use of music during the period of the Protestant Reformation.
She notes that both Reformers had a high view of music. Luther was a well-trained musician, yet Calvin not so much. She views their music backgrounds (or lack thereof) as possible reasons why their views at times diverged. Ruth also provides a quote from each on the role of music.

This quote from Calvin is great: Now among the other things proper to recreate man and give him pleasure, music is either the first or one of the principal, and we must think that it is a gift of God deputed to that purpose (Preface, Genevan Psalter, 1542).

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Early Christian Writings

Here is an excellent resource for students of patristic history. Early Christian Writings is just as the title says, a collection of writings from the early church. Anything one can think of is here in various translations, including those in their original languages. There are links to further resources as well as commentaries for each document.
Take the Epistle to Diognetus for example. There is included the translation by J.B. Lightfoot as well as the one by Roberts-Donaldson. There are further resources included for the epistle such as the Roberts-Donaldson introduction, the Wace introduction, Kirsopp Lake’s introduction, the Handbook of Patrology section on the epistle, Trowbridge’s introduction, the entry on the epistle in the Catholic Encyclopedia and an article on the theme of the “Christian life” in the epistle by J.S. Williams. All they need is Dr. Haykin’s chapter on The Epistle to Diognetus from his recent book Defence of the Truth and they’re all set!
I chose the Epistle to Diognetus as an example because the translation and resource lists were smaller than, say, for The Gospel of Thomas.
What a fabulous resource for those looking to study the early church!
(Note: for those seeking to check Tom Harpur’s misquotes from the early fathers, this will be helpful indeed!)

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