Knox and Cromwell

From the 2014 Semper Reformanda conference: “What Are Christians to Do In History?: John Knox, the British Reformation, and Oliver Cromwell” – Dr. Bruce Shortt

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

William Tyndale, the Prince of Translators

tyndaleReaders of the Bible in the English language owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the labor and genius of William Tyndale, as Dr. Steven Lawson explains in a blog article at Ligonier:

William Tyndale (ca. 1494–1536) made an enormous contribution to the Reformation in England. Many would say that he made the contribution by translating the Bible into English and overseeing its publication. One biographer, Brian Edwards, states that not only was Tyndale “the heart of the Reformation in England,” he “was the Reformation in England” (Edwards, God’s Outlaw: The Story of William Tyndale and the English Bible [Darlington, England: Evangelical Press, 1999], 170). Because of his powerful use of the English language in his Bible, this Reformer has been called “the father of modern English” (N. R. Needham, 2,000 Years of Christ’s Power, Part Three: Renaissance and Reformation [London: Grace Publications, 2004], 379).

John Foxe went so far as to call him “the Apostle of England” (John Foxe, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000], 114). There is no doubt that by his monumental work, Tyndale changed the course of English history and Western civilization.

Tyndale was born sometime in the early 1490s, most likely in 1494, in Gloucestershire, in rural western England. The Tyndales were an industrious and important family of well-to-do yeoman farmers, having the means to send William to Oxford University. In 1506, William, age twelve, entered Magdalen School, the equivalent of a preparatory grammar school located inside Magdalen College at Oxford. After two years at Magdalen School, Tyndale entered Magdalen College, where he learned grammar, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, music, rhetoric, logic, and philosophy. He also made rapid progress in languages under the finest classical scholars in England. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1512 and a master’s degree in 1515. Before leaving Oxford, Tyndale was ordained into the priesthood.

Cambridge and the White Horse Inn

Tyndale next went to study at Cambridge University, where it is believed he took a degree. Many of Martin Luther’s works were being circulated among the instructors and students, creating great excitement on the campus. In this environment, Tyndale embraced the core truths of the Protestant movement. Continue reading

Ulrich Zwingli, the Swiss Reformer

ZwingliUlrich Zwingli played a monumental role in the Swiss Reformation. Dr. Steven Lawson provides a very informative overview of Zwingli’s life and influence in this blog article, posted at the ligonier blog site:

Other than Martin Luther, Heinrich Bullinger, and John Calvin, the most important early Reformer was Ulrich Zwingli. A first-generation Reformer, he is regarded as the founder of Swiss Protestantism. Furthermore, history remembers him as the first Reformed theologian. Though Calvin would later surpass Zwingli as a theologian, he would stand squarely on Zwingli’s broad shoulders.

Less than two months after Luther came into the world, Zwingli was born on January 1, 1484, in Wildhaus, a small village in the eastern part of modern-day Switzerland, forty miles from Zurich. His father, Ulrich Sr., had risen from peasant stock to become an upper-middle-class man of means, a successful farmer and shepherd, as well as the chief magistrate for the district. This prosperity allowed him to provide his son with an excellent education. He presided over a home where typical Swiss values were inculcated in young Ulrich: sturdy independence, strong patriotism, zeal for religion, and real interest in scholarship.

The elder Ulrich early recognized the intellectual abilities of his son and sent him to his uncle, a former priest, to learn reading and writing. Thanks to his prosperity, Zwingli’s father was able to provide his son with further education. In 1494, he sent the ten-year-old Ulrich to the equivalent of high school at Basel, where he studied Latin, dialectic, and music. He made such rapid progress that his father transferred him to Berne in 1496 or 1497, where he continued his studies under a noted humanist, Heinrich Woeflin. Here Zwingli was given significant exposure to the ideas and Scholastic methods of the Renaissance. His talents were noted by the Dominican monks, who tried to recruit him to their order, but Zwingli’s father did not want his son to become a friar.

Universities of Vienna and Basel

In 1498, Zwingli’s father sent him to the University of Vienna, which had become a center of classical learning as Scholasticism was displaced by humanist studies. There he studied philosophy, astronomy, physics, and ancient classics. In 1502, he enrolled at the University of Basel and received a fine humanist education. In class, he came under the influence of Thomas Wyttenbach, professor of theology, and began to be aware of abuses in the church. He also taught Latin as he pursued further classical studies. He received his bachelor’s (1504) and master’s (1506) degrees from the school. Continue reading

Luther, A Fortress for Truth

Luther02At the Ligonier blog, Steven Lawson writes:

Martin Luther was a giant of history. Some believe he was the most significant European figure of the second millennium. He was the pioneer Reformer, the one God first used to spark a transformation of Christianity and the Western world. He was the undisputed leader of the German Reformation. In a day of ecclesiastical corruptions and apostasies, he was a valiant champion of the truth; his powerful preaching and pen helped to restore the pure gospel. More books have been written about him than any other man of history except Jesus Christ and possibly Augustine.

Luther came from hard-working stock. He was born in the little town of Eisleben, Germany, on November 10, 1483. His father, Hans, was a copper miner who eventually gained some wealth from a shared interest in mines, smelters, and other business ventures. His mother was pious but religiously superstitious. Luther was raised under the strict disciplines of the Roman Catholic Church and was groomed by his industrious father to be a successful lawyer. To this end, he pursued an education at Eisenach (1498–1501) and then at the University of Erfurt in philosophy. At the latter, he received a bachelor of arts degree in 1502 and a master of arts degree in 1505.

Luther’s life took an unexpected turn in July 1505, when he was twenty-one. He was caught in a severe thunderstorm and knocked to the ground by a nearby lightning strike. Terrified, he cried out to the Catholic patroness of miners, “Help me, St. Anna, and I will become a monk.” Luther survived the storm and made good on his dramatic vow. Two weeks later, he entered the Augustinian monastery in Erfurt. His father was furious over Luther’s apparent wasted education, but Luther was determined to follow through on his vow.

Lost in Self-Righteousness

In the monastery, Luther was driven to find acceptance with God through works. He wrote: “I tortured myself with prayer, fasting, vigils and freezing; the frost alone might have killed me… . What else did I seek by doing this but God, who was supposed to note my strict observance of the monastic order and my austere life? I constantly walked in a dream and lived in real idolatry, for I did not believe in Christ: I regarded Him only as a severe and terrible Judge portrayed as seated on a rainbow” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 24, eds. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann [St. Louis: Concordia, 2002], 62). Elsewhere he recalled: “When I was a monk, I wearied myself greatly for almost fifteen years with the daily sacrifice, tortured myself with fastings, vigils, prayers, and other very rigorous works. I earnestly thought to acquire righteousness by my works” (Luther’s Works, Vol. 12, 273).

In 1507, Luther was ordained to the priesthood. When he celebrated his first Mass, as he held the bread and cup for the first time, he was so awestruck at the thought of transubstantiation that he almost fainted. “I was utterly stupefied and terror-stricken,” he confessed. “I thought to myself, “Who am I that I should lift up mine eyes or raise my hands to the divine majesty? For I am dust and ashes and full of sin, and I am speaking to the living, eternal and true God’” (Luther, cited in Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995], 238). Fear only compounded his personal struggle for acceptance with God. Continue reading

Covenant Theology Debate

Dr. Michael Horton, paedobaptist, author of “God of promise”, and Jeffrey Johnson, credobaptist, author of “The Fatal Flaw”, debate the differences between their Covenant Theologies.

Spurgeon in his historical context

Reformed Theological Seminary Orlando gathered to hear renowned preacher Dr. John Piper deliver the Inaugural Spurgeon Lecture on Wednesday, April 10, 2013.

The Life and Ministry of Charles Spurgeon with John Piper – April 10, 2013 from RTS Orlando on Vimeo.

Dr. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, delivered the second annual Spurgeon Lecture at the Nicole Institute for Baptist Studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (March 10, 2014), setting C. H. Spurgeon within his intellectual and cultural context:

Spurgeon Lecture with Albert Mohler – March 10, 2014 from RTS Orlando on Vimeo.

Evidence For The Historical Jesus

jesus-reaching-outDr. William Lane Craig answers the Jesus-mythers who deny the existence of the historical Jesus (original source found here). Just a note: I would be much more vigorous in defending the Bible against the claims of contradictions and would point to resources that show the harmonization of so called “problem” passages, but all in all, this interview (below) is a good defense of the historicity of Jesus:

False Claims in the Popular Press

What do we actually know about Jesus Christ, the man?

There exists not a single contemporary reference to such a character. Not a single genuine artifact. Nothing to substantiate that he ever walked the earth.

We don’t even really have any evidence that those particular individuals – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – actually lived.

He leaves no trace in the historical record.

There is absolutely no historical evidence that Jesus existed, period. Not a single person wrote a single word about him in the time he supposedly lived. Not a single painting. Not a single artifact. He didn’t write anything himself down.

Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, we are taking a look at something that is making the rounds and haunting the blogosphere, and that is that Jesus never existed. One of the articles that is often quoted on this is from Valerie Tarico who writes for AlterNet – “5 Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed.”[1] The leading headline is “A growing number of scholars are openly questioning or actively arguing against Jesus’ historicity.” This is from September 1, 2014.

Dr. Craig: My initial response to that claim is that if the number grew from 0 to 1 then it might be true to say a growing number of scholars doubts Jesus’ existence. The trouble is, when you read the article, this is one of those things that you just have to roll your eyes at. It hasn’t even increased from 0 to 1. It is still 0. The people that she talks about in this article are people like David Fitzgerald who has written a new sensationalist book on Jesus. He is no scholar. His best credentials is that he has a degree in history from Fresno State, and that may well be a B.A. He is an atheist activist and speaker. So the fact of the matter is that there are no scholars who deny that Jesus of Nazareth existed. People like Robert Price and Richard Carrier that are named in the article do not hold professorships at academic institutions or read papers at scholarly societies or publish with academic presses. There aren’t any bona fide scholars that hold to this extreme and, frankly, silly view.

Kevin Harris: It really is a ridiculous notion. Talk about sensationalist. I would hate to besmirch people’s motivations, but if you say something sensational like this you do get invited on a lot of talk shows and it could help your book.

Dr. Craig: Yes, it is the old man-bites-dog notion. That’s what makes the news.

Kevin Harris: Fitzgerald says that he wanted to correct the errors in the Zeitgeist movie that gave the mythic background and tried to eradicate the existence of Jesus and show “young people interesting, accessible information that is grounded in accountable scholarship.”

Dr. Craig: Even he acknowledges that things like that Zeitgeist movie are irresponsible and inaccurate.

Kevin Harris: It still makes the round, so I’m glad at least there he is saying, “Come on.”

Dr. Craig: So he backs away from that but then continues to make claims just as extreme in the sense that he thinks Jesus never existed and that it is to be explained in some way mythologically, which Valerie never goes into in this article. She never actually gives what their positive account is of how all of this evidence for Jesus of Nazareth came to be if there never was such a person. The article is completely negative in offering what they think are reasons to doubt Jesus existed. Continue reading

Cross or Stake?

Here are two resource articles answering the claims of Jehovah’s Witnesses that Jesus died on a stake rather than a cross:

1. An article by Bill Mounce entitled “Did Jesus hang on a pole?

2. I would not normally point to anything at Catholic Answers (and am hesitant to do so now) but I believe the research and arguments made here in this particular article by Trent Horn is sound.


ConvictionIn an article entitled, “The Holy Spirit Never ‘Convicts’ Christians” Joshua Rogers writes:

I’ve spent three years of my legal career as a criminal prosecutor, a job that usually has one goal when it comes to wrongdoers: conviction. Once the defendant has pleaded guilty or has been found guilty by a jury, it’s all over. He has been convicted, and the only thing left to do is sentence him.

Early in my legal career, it struck me how often the word “conviction” gets used in the Christian community. In Christianese, the word is used anytime somebody feels guilty about something and wants to explain that the Holy Spirit was the source of their guilt (for example, “I felt convicted about speaking in anger”). But in Scripture, “conviction” is a legal term – not a word used to describe a feeling.

The Bible certainly uses a courtroom analogy when it talks about Christians; but for believers, Satan is the prosecutor, God is the judge, Jesus is our defense attorney, and we’re declared innocent of all charges (Ephesians 1:7, 1 John 2:1, Revelation 12:10). However, the word “convict” or “conviction” is never once used to describe the day-to-day interactions of the Holy Spirit and believers. Instead, “conviction” basically describes (1) how the Holy Spirit interacts with people who don’t believe in Jesus; and (2) what happens to Christians who try to follow rules instead of the Spirit (John 8:9, 16:8; 1 Corinthians 14:24; James 2:8-10; Jude 15).

So if the Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us, condemn us, or otherwise put us on guilt trips, what does He do? If we look at Scripture, it turns out He’s actually very involved with us in a number of ways. For example, He helps us in our weakness, teaches us, and reminds us of the words of Jesus (John 14:26; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:13). He gives us words to speak when we don’t know what to say; and He provides supernatural power that we need to walk out our calling (Mark 13:11, Acts 1:8). He fills us with Himself and with God’s joy, peace, and love (Acts 2:4, 8:17; Romans 5:5, 14:17). And He opens our eyes to see God’s glory and fervently prays for us in our weaknesses (Acts 7:55; Romans 8:26). But He does not convict us.

Jesus was already convicted for our sins, once and for all, when He became those sins on the cross and endured God’s wrath in our place (Isaiah 53:10, 2 Corinthians 5:21, 1 Peter 3:18). He’s the “convict” who took our shameful death sentence so that we would never have to be “convicted” of anything (Hebrews 12:2).

Linguist Benjamin Lee Whorf said, “Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.” If this is true, then we have a special obligation to watch the words we use to describe God – especially if our portray Him doing something that is fundamentally at odds with His character.

So the next time you’re feeling “convicted” in the truest sense of the word, know this: you are not hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit. Yes, He will correct us and discipline us like any good parent, but that’s evidence of His love, which ought to be the most reassuring thing in the world (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 12:6).

Encouraging Feedback

radiomicAs many of you know, at various times whilst Dr. James White has been away on various ministry trips this year, I have had the unique privilege of guest hosting his Dividing Line broadcasts.

Here are three comments I received just this morning:

Hey, brother. I just wanted to thank you for your walk-through of Acts 10 on the Dividing Line. I, and many others like me, can get so caught up on the many doctrinal depths and exegetical intricacies the Bible has to offer that we can neglect that which Paul said was “of first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3), namely the clear and simple presentation of the Gospel. I thought you did a great job of capturing that in those episodes. Alex

I really enjoyed your talk on Justification. It was really helpful, glad to see you on The Dividing Line.

Pastor Samson,
I want to send some words of appreciation for your teaching recently on The Dividing Line. I am usually disappointed when the regular host of any of my favorite programs is not on the broadcast. You have been the exception. I am now a fan of your teaching. My heart is always enlarged by the reading and teaching of His Word that you bring to the broadcast.
May God bless your ministry. David

The twelve broadcasts (each of which last one hour) can be found at this link. I hope the teachings will be a blessing.