Renee of France and John Calvin—Friends to the End

Calvin opens up about his personal life with Renée in ways that are uncharacteristic of him. They were friends.

He took great care to present Renée with clear teaching on the essential doctrines, as she was up against false teachers in the Este court. As she was going through persecution brought on by her own husband, wavering in her faith, Calvin continues to strengthen and encourage her with gospel truth. He spoke graciously to... Continue Reading

Think Again: Relief from the Burden of Introspection by Jared Mellinger

The strategy put forth is not to avoid introspection altogether, but to think less of self and more of Christ.

I can’t think of a better resource to give to those who struggle with doubts or the tendency to second-guess and over-analyze decisions and motives. This resource is filled with Gospel goodness and solid enough to help those in a variety of situations. It is a book one might want to give away to special... Continue Reading

The New Definitive Book on the Great Awakening in New England

Winiarski emphasizes the novelty of George Whitefield’s teachings and the “Whitefieldarian” tactics that drove the awakening.

Winiarski suggests that New England Congregationalist churches were dominated by the beliefs and practices of the “godly walkers.” They would have of course emphasized the need for God’s grace and the power of God in regenerating sinners, but in practice they heavily emphasized religious duty and longtime holiness as the signs of saving faith.  ... Continue Reading

Does Religion Kill Democracy?

Many try to explain the democratic deficit, and the role religion plays in it, through extensive empirical study and statistical analysis.

Material well-being is much more widespread than it was in the 1830s (rampant allegations of inequality notwithstanding), but it does not seem as though happiness and spiritual fulfillment are equally ubiquitous. It is not clear that in America democracy has been sufficiently ennobled. The greater question, which Owen poses through Tocqueville, is whether it is... Continue Reading

To Christians Who Suffer

If you are suffering, I pray God gives you the eyes of faith to see that his grace is sufficient for you in your weakness even right now.

As Paul said in his trial, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).  Suffering is so hard; it is a heavy, heavy burden.  But God’s grace lightens the load, shines light on the path, and makes it possibly for us to joyfully make it through suffering.  And remember, your trial will... Continue Reading

The Pastorate: More Than The Pulpit (Bridges)

When the pulpit and the pastoral work are both flourishing, it will help keep a congregation united.

The pulpit is only part of a pastor’s ministry. Of course, it is a major and central part of the ministry, but the pulpit is not the only part. A pastor also has pastoral work to do; this too is an essential part of his ministry. I appreciate how Charles Bridges explained this. It’s also... Continue Reading

Where Evangelicals Came From

There is no mystery involved. They were always here. We were just not looking at them.

“Evangelicals” is an elastic term, and FitzGerald intermittently shrinks or stretches it. But she does direct us to the right starting point, to the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Great Awakenings, major religious events in our early history when the word “evangelicalism” came into wide American use. Evangelical religion is revival religion, that of emotional contagion.  ... Continue Reading

How Can Justification Make me Joyful?

Jesus Christ’s perfect birth, life, death, and resurrection were mine through faith alone apart from any of my own efforts.

After I was converted there was the inevitable spiritual joy of a newly born child of God. But only a year or so later, I was in despair. When I looked at so much of the sin and hypocrisy that was going on among other believers my age, I wondered if my conversion was real.... Continue Reading

The Importance of “Christ Alone” (Luther)

Luther said that if we understand that we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone, we’ll rightly reject and condemn any other way to be right with God.

“Then presently comes someone who preaches to me: ‘If you want to be pious and serve God, then put on a hood, pray daily so many rosaries, burn so many little candles to St. Anna.’  Then I fall in with this like a blind man and everybody’s fool and prisoner, and do everything I am... Continue Reading

Why an Award-Winning Writer Turned Her Attention to Evangelicals

FitzGerald has read most of the scholarship on evangelicals and synthesized it into a masterful narrative

“She begins the story, appropriately, with the 18th-century revivals of the First Great Awakening, the birthplace of American evangelicalism. She demonstrates that from the beginning the movement was primarily religious and theological, with political overtones, and quite diverse.”   I first encountered Frances FitzGerald in the 1970s when I read her Pulitzer Prize-winning book on the Vietnam... Continue Reading