Editorial: Words of Wisdom from the Past -- By: Mal Couch

Journal: Conservative Theological Journal
Volume: CTJ 09:28 (Dec 2005)
Article: Editorial: Words of Wisdom from the Past
Author: Mal Couch

Words of Wisdom from the Past

Mal Couch

Tyndale Seminary

In 1845 Robert Shaw’s Exposition of The Westminster Confession of Faith was first published in England. A reprint was released in 1998 by Christian Heritage Books. In this book Shaw gives an excellent commentary of the Westminster Confession that brings this statement of faith alive for the serious student of Christian truth. While no one agrees with every article in the Westminster Confession, it along with Calvin’s Institutes, gave a firm foundation to Protestantism and the Evangelical Faith.

For the new edition Sinclair B. Ferguson writes a poignant Forward that speaks volumes to our theologically spoiled and spiritually pampered generation. In fact, stronger and more forceful language might be used to describe the larger Evangelical community today. It is wallowing in ineptness and syrupy simplistic emotionalism that tries to pass for Christian maturity. Ferguson seems to hit the nail on the head with his words about our generation. I have taken the space here to quote half of what he writes—it is worth repeating in this Editorial:

In past days the Confession was read, pondered and studied by Christians of all levels of education. The crofter and the craftsman might be as familiar with it as the teacher and the theologian. Understanding Christian doctrine and healthy Christian living were then seen as intimate friends. It is hardly surprising that rugged, vigorous, intelligent and self-sacrificing Christianity was the result, for the Confession put calcium into the Christian’s spiritual bones.

Of course, the Confession’s heyday was in an age in which Christians had little “leisure-time”, no television and few books. We, by contrast, have so many other things to absorb our attention. Yet, it is to our spiritual loss that we—by comparison so well-educated—are so poorly educated in the things which matter most of all, the truths of the gospel. Indeed, opening the

Confession may bring us moderns into a world and a vocabulary to which many of us are strangers.

In this setting, we must not make the mistake of either passively accepting the influences of our age, or of wishing we had been born in another era. Instead we must learn to live wholesomely nonconformist Christian lives, increasingly transformed by the renewing of our minds (as Paul puts it in Romans 12:1–2).

Some months ago, while talking about these issues with Jewish-Christian scholar Stephen Ger, my complaining mind was pulled up short by something he said. “Mai, this is our generation. Th...

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