Where Does Ultimate Authority Lie?

Is it in the Scriptures alone or is it in the Scriptures and tradition?

When Martin Luther was brought into disputes with the princes of the church, they reminded him that his understanding of justification was not the traditional understanding, that the church long had explained justification in different categories. But Luther simply said: “Here is what the Bible says. My conscience is held captive by the Word of... Continue Reading

Are We All Unconscious Racists?

No: there’s scant evidence to support the trendy implicit-bias theory.

Any social-psychological instrument must pass two tests to be considered accurate: reliability and validity. A psychological instrument is reliable if the same test subject, taking the test at different times, achieves roughly the same score each time. But IAT [Implicit Association Test] bias scores have a lower rate of consistency than is deemed acceptable for... Continue Reading

Covenant Seminary Statement on Biblical Social Justice

This statement seeks to answer questions and concerns we have received regarding the seminary’s view on matters of social justice and particularly as it relates to matters of racial reconciliation and racial justice.

As the denominational seminary, we are seeking to work in conjunction with the current PCA study committee for racial reconciliation to “develop specific steps that could be taken to effect racial reconciliation and the advance of the gospel.” We are striving to be a place that facilitates conversations and helps future pastors and ministry leaders train... Continue Reading

Westminster & Preaching: Unction

What is happening when public speaking on spiritual subjects moves beyond human oratory?

The human preacher is to put for the time and effort to be schooled in preaching, to study and prepare and exegete for preaching, to hone and craft his sermon for preaching, but, in the end, “success is God’s work.”[1]As humbling as that is for preachers, it is absolutely true.   From Toastmasters to TED... Continue Reading

Salvation Sola Gratia, Sola Fide: On Distinguishing Is, With, And Through

Notice what faith does in justification. It rests and receives. The nomists hate this.

As I noted in Covenant, Justification, and Pastoral Ministry (2007), almost as soon as the Reformation achieved clarity on salvation it came under attack from two sides: the antinomians, who would not tolerate the abiding validity of the moral law as the norm of the Christian life and the nomists, who would not abide free salvation earned... Continue Reading

Church Clarity ought to be about biblical and theological clarity

The clarity that this group calls for falls short of the clarity that Jesus requires (2 Cor. 4:2).

Being clear about policies is fine. But even more central is being clear about what a church believes. A church’s policies ought to be grounded in clear biblical teaching, but “Church Clarity” does not aim at “evaluating theology or doctrine.” And yet this is precisely what the Lord expects churches to do.    On Wednesday,... Continue Reading

Eulogy for Traditional Marriage

What is the best definition of marriage—is it a bond of love between adults (of either sex) or the union of a man and a woman?

My purpose in outlining the classical case for marriage isn’t to bolster the NO-campaign. It is to clarify why being un-persuaded about same-sex marriage is not necessarily thoughtless or heartless. What follows, then, is a kind of ‘eulogy’ for traditional marriage, a tribute to a venerable idea that seems to have failed to commend itself... Continue Reading

#Metoo, But God

While many victims of sexual abuse feel shame, the God who sees us is not silent.

The great tragedy of “Me too” is not just that the world can say it. It’s not just that sin is so pervasive. It’s not just that it might wake us up to the reality that evil men and women are everywhere. “Me too”, while it may offer a temporary comfort of not feeling alone,... Continue Reading

Why did the Reformation Succeed?

Despite significant opposition, Protestant churches survived the era of their tumultuous birth and grew large to provide spiritual shade and sustenance for countless men, women and children. But how?

Luther preached about a direct encounter with the Lord, and preached in a way that expected listeners to experience the Lord directly. At the heart of the success of the Protestant Reformation was its bold and clear proclamation of Christ.   It’s not just in Wittenberg, Geneva or Cambridge that you can find one. In... Continue Reading

Jesus Is Our Righteousness

Christ's life of perfect obedience is just as necessary for our salvation as His perfect atonement on the cross

We’ve seen that in the work of redemption God didn’t send Jesus to earth on Good Friday and say, “Die for the sins of your people and that will take care of it.” No. Jesus not only had to die for our sins, but He had to live for our righteousness. If all Jesus did... Continue Reading

The True Treasure of the Church

The gospel is God’s revelation of grace, not law; acceptation with God, not condemnation from God.

Why is Jesus the gospel and therefore the true treasure of the church? Because he’s done everything I cannot do to save me! He’s God; I’m not. He was a perfectly obedient man to God’s commands; I’m not. He died an unjust death that I might be justly acquitted by God; I’d hardly die for... Continue Reading

Back to the Reformed Confessions and Catechisms

No matter how much we may like Calvin, Twisse, Edwards, Horton, or Piper, ultimately we don't confess them. We confess the standards of our denominations.

Everything, no matter who said it, must be weighed against Scripture. And for confessional Christians, a good place to start is with our confessional standards. Confessional Christians, especially ordained leaders, believe and affirm that the confessional standards of their denomination contain “the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures” (PCA and OPC ordination questions).... Continue Reading

The Sufficiency of the Bible Contra Rome

Sola Scriptura at its heart was an assertion of the sufficiency of the Bible for the faith and practice of the church.

The principle of Scripture alone, rightly understood, does not mean the church of any given time or place operates by the Bible alone without reference to the traditions of the church through the ages. Rather, the sola of sola Scriptura means that the Bible alone is the fountain and touchstone for all authoritative teaching and tradition. This point especially... Continue Reading

Apostasy in Hebrews 6:4-6 (Owen)

The perseverance of the saints is a clear – and comforting! – teaching of Scripture. So what is Hebrews 6:4-6 teaching?

“That the people here  intended (in Heb. 6:4-6) are not true and sincere believers, in the strict and proper sense of that name, at least they are not described here as such; so that from this nothing can be concluded concerning them that are so, as to the possibility of their total and final apostasy.... Continue Reading

Fishers of Men

My experience has shown me that the words are familiar to the church, but the actual work perhaps not so much.

Repair the net that is the church. In this same passage in Matthew 4, two other fishing brothers, James and John, are also called by Christ. When Jesus called them, they were “mending their nets” (Matt. 4:21). My mentor, Pastor Ken Smith, likes to point out that the word used here to describe these men repairing their nets... Continue Reading

3 Ways Pastors and Church Leaders Undermine Themselves on Social Media

Social media can be a minefield for pastors and church leaders, but it doesn’t have to be.

Pastors and church leaders, you must understand: engaging in unnecessary conflict on social media, regardless of the subject or how important you think it is, ultimately damages your witness and clouds people from receiving the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stop it. No matter how passionate you are about defending the Second... Continue Reading

Think on These Things

Joy in the Lord needs to be pursued intentionally

If anyone was a realist, the Apostle Paul was. He had no illusions about his circumstances. He was in prison. He fully expected to die a martyr’s death. He was deeply concerned that the believers in Asia minor would remain steadfast in the face of increasing persecution. But even in his incarcerated state, which would... Continue Reading

Two Indispensable Requirements For Pastoral Ministry

We must like studying the Bible, and we must like our people.

The people who do their jobs best usually like their jobs most. And we like following people who like what they do. I’ve often wondered if the missing ingredient in many churches is simply an awareness by the congregation that the pastor is really happy to be their pastor—happy to be in the Word each... Continue Reading

Four Implications of Martin Luther’s Theology

What do the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace, justification by faith, and new life in union with Christ mean for the living of the Christian life?

For Luther, the Christian life is a gospel-grounded, gospel-built, gospel-magnifying life that exhibits the free and sovereign grace of God and is lived out in gratitude to the Savior who died for us, yoked to Him in cross-bearing until death is swallowed up in victory and faith becomes sight.   What do the sovereignty of God,... Continue Reading

Should Pastors Today Still Care about the Reformation?

Why should busy pastors set aside valuable hours to read up on the Reformation, usually thought to have kicked off about five hundred years ago?

The Reformation is of central importance for understanding modern Western history. Three large-scale movements set the stage for the contemporary Western world: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. Each of the three is complex, and scholars continue to debate many facets of each. Nevertheless, the raw claim for the pivotal role of these three... Continue Reading

A Review: “Killing England”

A review of Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing England.”

In a post-Christian America there is a movement to rid our nation of all vestiges of its Christian past.  Highlighting the sins of former Christian heroes enables them to do this.  Since early America was greatly influenced by the Christian Faith, many modern historians in our educational system (and entertainment industry) are beginning to target... Continue Reading

Sola Scriptura: A Scripture-Alone Life

The issue of authority is the foundational issue of the Reformation.

God’s Word over us is the final authority. God’s Word under us is the foundation of promises. For either of these to be effective, we must have God’s Word in us. The Reformation exploded out of a desert of biblical truth. The people were starving for the gospel and God’s Word. That’s why translating the... Continue Reading

Westminster & Preaching: Preparation & Hearing

The Puritan movement was known firstly as a resurgence of biblical of preaching.

For the Puritans, and the Westminster Assembly especially, preaching was only right preaching when the text was central; for the responsible preacher, the Scripture passage was to guide the sermon, not allowing his sermon to mold the Scripture or to go beyond what the text was saying.   The Puritan movement was known firstly as... Continue Reading

Has Interest In Homeschooling Waned?

Researchers dispute government data showing no growth in the homeschool community.

Before the government released its survey results, Ray issued his own estimates of homeschool growth. In early 2016, he put the number of homeschool students at about 2.3 million—4.5 percent of the overall school-age population—with an estimated annual growth rate of 2-8 percent.   (WNS)–A government survey released last week showed interest in homeschooling appears... Continue Reading

There Is No Spiritualizing This One

No spiritualizing seemed to fit into that humble parking spot.

I began to slip from irritation to worry. Maybe he’d had a heart-attack, or fell and hurt his head. I was somewhere between fret and panic, playing out the scenes, fearing the worst, waiting to hear an ambulance siren, when I like a bolt of lightening, I remembered…..   And it came to pass in... Continue Reading

The Christian’s Duty to Hold Firm

It is the Christian’s duty to hold firm to the uniqueness of God and of His Christ

“In our day, where pluralism reigns in the culture, there is as much satirical hostility to the idea of one God as there was in Nietzsche’s satire. But today, that repugnance to monotheism is not a laughing matter. In the culture of pluralism, the chief virtue is toleration, which is the notion that all religious... Continue Reading

Red Flags

Before someone is in a position of leadership at a church, they need to be committed to that church

“Add to your team slowly, intentionally, and wisely. Look for red flags and don’t just hope they’ll disappear. They hardly ever do – and they’re a whole lot harder to handle once you’ve already taken the plunge.”   Adding members to a worship team, a choir, or really any volunteer team is one of the... Continue Reading

When You Fault Evangelicals for Being Unreasonable, Make Sure to Use Reason

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at the Washington Post, claims that evangelicals are proving their harshest critics right. Why?

“That makes me wonder what Rubin does with evangelicals who chastise the President for his egotism, lack of decorum, and many vices and sins. Aren’t they guilty of demanding that Trump conform to Christian morality? And isn’t that a form of imposing Christianity on the country?”   Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at the Washington... Continue Reading

In Post-Christian America, Should Christians Retreat from Mission?

Christians should embrace the call to be public witnesses for Christ, whether in cultural power or weakness

The outward thrust of Christian life can be seen, first of all, in an imperative that is often called the cultural mandate, but I call it the First Great Commission. In the first two chapters of Genesis, God instructed Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:22), “till the soil” (2:5) and “have dominion”... Continue Reading

Before Calvin

What if critics of 2k had to think about the relationship between the church and magistrates before emperors got religion

“So long as a Protestant city council supports our guy, John Calvin, we forget about the problems of a religious magistrate? It’s our civil government. And so long as that Cadillac CTS that only gets 13.8 mpg is a comfortable ride to church, we forget about the price of gas or limits on fossil fuels?... Continue Reading