Category: tolle lege book reviews

Tolle Lege: Feasting Amid Fears

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Yesterday was a big day for us.  Titus had been feeding his homemade sourdough starter (appropriately named Patrick) for 2 weeks and yesterday he turned it into fragrant, golden loaves to supplement our St. Patricks Day feast of corned beef, bangers, mash and all the fixings. Don’t know the story of Patrick, who after being kidnapped by Irish pirates and forced into servitude, escaped, and then went back to Ireland to bring his captors the good news of Jesus Christ? Click here for a great biographical article from Ligonier Ministries.  Since our kids are half German/half ScotchIrish we use holidays like Reformation Day and St. Patricks to celebrate and learn more about the Christian heritage of those cultures. And yes, we consume copious amounts of pork sausage for both. This year I made bookmarks with Saint Patrick’s “Lorica” printed on them so we could recite it together around the table. Timely words in a world riddled by fear of disease and economic upheaval.

Stuck at home with extra time on your hands?  Why not study up on other saints (and I mean that in the broadest, most Biblical sense of the word) in church history?  How have others believers braved times far more perilous than that which we now face? My boys have thoroughly enjoyed “Sketches From Church History” put out by Banner of Truth Publishing where you can read all about defenestration (Joel’s favorite new word, and don’t let anyone tell you German doesn’t have at least some Latin roots) and other such violent acts.  For my more genteel readers I want to suggest the two-volume set, “Memorable Women of Puritan Times” by James Anderson (Soli Deo Gloria Publishing). Tom bought me these when we were newly weds and I have returned to them again and again. In tumultuous times there is nothing to gird one up like considering others who have “endured opposition from sinful men.”

And finally. Once upon a time, Christian families had the time, or rather I should say, MADE the time to read God’s Word together and talk about what it said. The result of this was more often-than-not believing children who grew up knowing what they believed and why they believed it.  If you’re one of those families who have never tasted of the sweetness of reading scripture TOGETHER (and judging by the rampant Biblical illiteracy even in our churches, there’s probably more of you than you’d care to admit), why not use this time to invest in a habit that according to Isaiah 55:11 is guaranteed eternal returns? Our family is using the chronological Bible reading plan this year but we’ve used all kinds of others. You don’t need a reading plan. You just need to read. Aloud. Together.

And talk about it. If you want to combine church history with your Bible readings, Crossway has put out a couple really excellent Bibles to keep on hand for that purpose. I already did a review of their ESV Prayer Bible. You can read it by clicking here.  Recently they sent me a copy of their “ESV Bible With Creeds And Confessions.” It’s really beautiful and has large enough print that if you’re passing the Bible around during family read aloud time your younger and elderly readers will have no trouble participating.  It really is the perfect “family Bible” and has enough of that “heirloom quality” to be cherished for generations. Best of all it is a great tool for all believers who want a better understanding of the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. Because it contains all the creeds and confessions of Orthodox Christianity you will see not only the doctrines considered by all to be essential, but also the variances deemed (relatively 🙂 )unessential such as the different views of baptism contained in the London Baptist Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism.

Please understand that I’m not throwing this all out there to make anyone feel like we’re using this as an opportunity to prove our own holiness over others’.  But people I love are starving.  I see friends and family picking at crumbs fallen from the table and drinking great gulps of poisonous teachings that have spread like the yeast in Ty’s bread through our churches. All the while, we more than any generation have a splendidly nourishing and sumptuous feast spread before us 24/7.  Oh dear ones, please, take and eat. You too, can choose feasting over fear.

Some of you really liked the link to one of Titus’s youtube videos that ended up in the comments last week so here’s another one for your listening pleasure.

Tolle Lege: “Growing In Holiness” and “Sanctification”

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I was super excited to get a copy of “Growing in Holiness” by the late R.C. Sproul and saved it as my flight read to the recent G3Conference in Atlanta.  Not only was I expecting it to be the perfect appetizer to all the teaching on worship I was about to receive but I fully expected it to fill in the lonely airport hours like an old friend would. Yes, the subject of holiness is EXACTLY where my heart needed to be planted in preparation for that conference. But no, I never found that friendly, familiar voice within those pages.  “Growing in Holiness” might well be taken from Sproul’s lectures on the same subject, and the information is well organized, easily digestible, and theologically sound, but it wasn’t Sproul doing the telling.  If you, like me, were impacted for life by “The Holiness of God” do not expect the same kind of force from “Growing in Holiness.” It’s good, but it’s not the knock-you-off-your-feet-never-view-God-in-the-same-way-again-buy-a-copy-for-every-one-you-know kind of good that “The Holiness of God” was.  Therefore, I was disappointed.

Interestingly, another book just came out by Sproul’s good friend, John MacArthur on holiness’ twin subject.  “Sanctification” packs a powerful 64 page punch.  The tone is very pastoral, recognizing first “The Good Shepherd’s” goal for His flock. This was the perfect place to start for me.  For some reason, hearing the “why” of our sanctification made me desire that which Christ desires for me more than I ever had before.  MacArthur then turns his attention to pastors, including the apostles own interactions with the the early church. Wo to pastors who don’t have the same goal for the flock as our Good Shepherd!

Because MacArthur’s book is so short and really lays the ground work for Sproul’s, I recommend reading “Sanctification” first, then fleshing out the practical details with “Growing in Holiness.”  Together, you have a well-rounded read on a subject that is far too neglected by evangelicals today.

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Tolle Lege: To Be A Christian by J.I. Packer

In a day when the evangelical church is breaking doctrinal fetters in pursuance of wokeness, intersectionality and progressivism, “To Be a Christian” reads like a breath of fresh air.  I’ve been told more than once not to “put God in a box.”  But I’ve lately come to realize that Scripture already has.  Sound doctrine forms the parameters by which our infinite God is to be known and worshipped and taught.  Confessions, creeds, and catechisms, are an historically reliable way to teach those parameters.

In “To Be a Christian” the Anglican Church aims to catechize its members, both young and old, in the basic tenants of the Christian faith.  It does this by means of the traditional Question/Answer format and often in an eloquent manner well-deserving of quoting and memorization. For example, #5 under Salvation reads:

“Can you save yourself from the way of sin and death?  No. I have no power to save myself, for sin has corrupted my con- science, confused my mind, and captured my will. Only God can save me.” (25)

What makes this catechism unique from others in the reformed tradition is that it is written by Anglicans for Anglicans.  This becomes overtly apparent in the section, “Concerning Sacraments”  i.e. #149:

“What is absolution?  In absolution, a priest, acting under God’s authority, pronounces God’s forgiveness in response to repentance and confession of sin.” (62).

Now if that ain’t the Anglicanist thing you ever did hear!

I’m going to shelf this one for reference, but wouldn’t recommend it for use in family worship or instruction.  Unless ye be Anglican, of course.  Still, it was a comfort to read that in the essentials of the Christian faith, the Anglican Church seems to be upholding and instructing sound doctrine to its members.

I received a copy of this book free from the publisher but am not obligated to write favorable review.