Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Reading for September 2007

· Transformed by Praise- Mark D. Futato, 2002.
Futato examines the book of Psalms with an eye towards discerning an overall structure to the whole collection. Futato initially notes the movement in the collection of laments towards the beginning, with praise predominating at the end. After examining basic characteristics of Hebrew poetry, Futato examines Psalms 1 and 2 as an introduction to the entire Psalter. Psalm 1 presents the goal of abundant living, and the rest of the Psalms either present the abundant life, or respond to the problem of the ungodly prospering while the righteous struggle. The discussion of how Psalm 2 structures the collection is fascinating. David predominates in book 1, while Solomon opens the second book. Book 3 closes with a lament caused by the exile. Books 4 and 5 present YHWH as reigning, and the response of his subjects of faithful obedience and hope.

· “Predestination”- Benjamin B. Warfield. The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield (Volume II- Biblical Doctrines, 3-67), 1909.
Warfield discuss the Biblical doctrine of predestination by examining the occurrences of the term and concept throughout the Scriptures. He begins noting the Hebrew and Greek terms used. Warfield moves through the Old and New Testament briefly noting those passages and authors where teaching on predestination is more prominent. Warfield divides the discussion between the Divine Decree and Divine Election. Warfield also notes predestination as taught in other Jewish writings, which are significant for an Old Testament understanding and as background for the New Testament teaching. Significant attention is given to Isaiah and Paul in the Old and New Testament respectively.

· “Hermeneutical Issues and Principles in Hebrews as Exemplified in the Second Chapter” – Lanier Burns (JETS: December 1996).
Using the second chapter as a key to understanding some of the difficulties involved in Hebrews, Burns examines three major areas; the rhetorical principle, the Christological principle and the contextual principle. The first area concerns the genre of the book, and challenges the interpreter to place greater emphasis on the parenetic sections in interpreting the book. The second area examines the authors use of the Scripture and his view of Christ as the ultimate fulfillment of those passages. The authors use of the LXX is noted throughout the section. The final section examines the authors unified exhortation and the means he used to compose and connect the sermon.

· The Federal Vision and Covenant Theology- Guy Prentiss Waters, 2006.
Opening with a scathing forward by E. Calvin Beisner, Waters’ book is a thorough evaluation of the movement from a conservative, confessional perspective. Waters examines the Federal Vision’s conception on the covenant and the structure of Biblical theology, justification, election, assurance, perseverance and apostasy, and the sacraments. Waters is clear to note the diversity of opinions held by the prominent leaders of the movement, but also their mutual appreciation for the others works. While Waters claims that his discussion is based in a critical examination based on Scripture and the Westminster Confession and Catechisms, solid exegesis is lacking in the authors conclusion. Throughout, the assumption is made that the traditional Reformed interpretation is correct, and the Federal Vision is in error simply because it differs with the consensus interpretation. Waters’ attitude throughout the examination is that the Federal Vision is totally wrong, and has nothing positive to offer the current Reformed church in America. Waters use of the writings of Federal Vision demonstrate the greater attention of the Federal Vision with the actual Biblical data, while their critics base their critique in the Confession. The pastor concern of the Federal Vision is apparent throughout, and their emphasis in explaining reality in terms of the historical, covenantal outworking of God’s decree. The strongest area of the Federal Vision presented in the book was the need for perseverance and for real, covenantal apostasy. The emphasis on the objectivity of sacraments is also a useful corrective to the emphasis on subjectivity in the Reformed church influenced by evangelicalism. The conception of the covenant solely in relational terms appears to be the weakest point in the movement. While the book inadvertently presents many of the attractive strengths of the Federal Vision, it is also clear that the Federal Vision tends to overreact to genuine areas of concern in the current Reformed community. At times, it seems that the best answer lies in blending the insights of both the traditional Reformed theology with the realism of the Federal Vision.