Category Archives: Eat This Book

“In Jesus Christ we find the key to comprehension” by Craig A. Carter

“‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever’ (Heb. 13:8), and the saints rest securely in His unchanging love.

Since God has come among us by miraculous actions in history, our knowledge of God arise from the contemplation of His actions in history.

What we seek in our contemplation of His action is certain knowledge of His eternal being. We want to know God as God is in the depths of His perfect nature.

This is what drives theology forward. But we do not see history itself as the revelation of God; we see divine self-revelation in the providential and miraculous history of redemption as interpreted by the prophets and apostles of Holy Scripture.

History itself is often inscrutable; in Jesus Christ we find the key to comprehension. The witness of the church focuses on Christ and the gospel, not on current events or the immediate past and imminent future.

History contains many false starts, wrong turns, and much regress as well as progress. But we know whom we have believed (2 Tim. 1:12).”

–Craig A. Carter, Contemplating God with the Great Tradition: Recovering Trinitarian Classical Theism (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2021), 305.

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“Jesus Christ is both the content of Scripture and the interpreter of Scripture” by Craig Carter

“Only the slain Lamb who is now alive is able to open the scroll.

Jesus Christ is both the content of Scripture and the interpreter of Scripture.”

–Craig A. Carter, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition: Recovering the Genius of Premodern Exegesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2018), 215.

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“The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost” by Thomas Watson

“Highly prize the Scriptures. ‘The law of Thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72)

Prize this Book of God above all other books. Gregory calls the Bible the heart and soul of God. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect.’ (Psalm 19:7)

The Scripture is the library of the Holy Ghost; it is a code of divine knowledge, an exact model, and platform of religion.

The Scripture contains in it the Credenda, the things which we are to believe, and the Agenda, the things which we are to practice; it is able to make us wise unto salvation. (2 Tim. 3:15)

The Scripture is the standard of truth, the judge of controversy; it is the pole star to direct us to heaven. The Scripture is the compass by which the rudder of our will is to be steered.

It is the field in which Christ, the pearl of price, is hidden. It is a rock of diamond;. It is a spiritual optic glass in which the glory of God is resplendent.

It is the panacea or universal medicine for the soul. The leaves of Scripture are like ‘the leaves of the tree of life for the healing of the nations.’ (Rev. 22:2)

The Scripture is the breeder and feeder of grace. How is the convert born, but by ‘the word of truth?’ (James 1:18)

How does a believer grow but by ‘the sincere milk of the Word?’ (1 Peter 2:2)

The Word written is the book out of which our evidences for heaven are fetched; it is the sea-mark which shows us the rocks of sin; it is the antidote against error and apostasy; it is the two-edged sword which wounds the old serpent.

It is our bulwark to withstand the force of lust. The Scripture is the tower of David, whereon the shields of our faith hang. Take away the Word, and you deprive us of the sun, said Luther.

The word written is above an angelical embassy, or a voice from heaven. ‘This voice which came from heaven we heard; we have also a more sure word.’ (2 Peter 1:18)

How should we estimate the sacred oracles of God? ‘I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.’ (Job 23:12)

King Edward VI., on the day of his coronation, had presented before him three swords, signifying that he was the monarch of three kingdoms. The King said there was one sword wanting; being asked what that was, he answered, ‘the Holy Bible, which is the sword of the Spirit, and is to be preferred before all these ensigns of royalty.’

Robert, King of Sicily, did so prize God’s word, that, speaking to his friend Petrarch, he said, ‘I protest the Scriptures are dearer to me than my kingdom, and if I must be deprived of one of them, I had rather lose my diadem than the Scriptures.'”

—Thomas Watson, “How We May Read the Scriptures with Most Spiritual Profit,” in Heaven Taken by Storm, Showing the Holy Violence a Christian is to Put Forth in Pursuit After Glory (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1810/1992), 120-121.

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“My books are my true company” by Herman Bavinck

“By way of chronology, Unink’s death occurred within weeks of Arie den Dekker’s most recent (wordless) rejection of Bavinck’s suitorship for his daughter.

These were lonely and difficult days for Bavinck: at twenty-nine years old he lived with his parents, saw no immediate prospect of marriage, and, following Unink’s untimely death, had few friends close at hand.

These circumstances set the scene for a comment made in a subsequent letter to the dying Johan van Haselen that typifies the phase into which his life was moving: ‘My books are my true company.’

Barred from pursuing Amelia, bereft of Unink, and with the likes of Snouck Hurgronje and Henry Dosker only accessible by letter, Bavinck surrounded himself with new conversation partners.

In the prime of life, his closest companions became a group of long-dead theologians.”

–James Eglinton, Bavinck: A Critical Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2020), 142-143.

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“Theology by its nature is a mystery discerning enterprise” by Thomas Weinandy

“I believe that a distinction between problem and mystery is relevant to how theologians ought to approach issues of faith and theology.

Marcel and Maritain were well aware that, arising out of the Enlightenment, there grew the mentality that intellectual advancement consisted in solving problems that had hitherto not been solved. The former ‘mysteries’ of the physical universe were being resolved by approaching them as scientific problems to be decoded and unraveled.

The scientific and physical laws of nature became transparent and unmistakable. The new enthusiasm and success of the scientific method was the major contributing factor to this mentality.

Science became the means of resolving all kinds of problems and issues concerning nature and how nature worked. All this was done in a concise, rational, mathematical, and experiential fashion.

It was equally eminently practical. Scientific knowledge could solve a host of practical problems, and everyone gloried in its success. This mentality is illustrated in the contemporary belief that technology, one of the fruits of science, can solve almost any problem.

In the realm of science and technology this mentality, that intellectual advancement consists in solving theoretical and practical problems, may be legitimate. However, I want to argue that this mentality, to disastrous effect, has coloured how many philosophers and theologians approach questions of faith and theology.

Many theologians today, having embraced the Enlightenment presuppositions and the scientific method that it fostered, approach theological issues as if they were scientific problems to be solved rather than mysteries to be discerned and clarified.

However, the true goal of theological inquiry is not the resolution of theological problems, but the discernment of what the mystery of faith is.

Because God, who can never be fully comprehended, lies at the heart of all theological enquiry, theology by its nature is not a problem solving enterprise, but rather a mystery discerning enterprise.

This can bee seen already in the early stages of God’s revelation of Himself to the Jewish people. God manifested Himself to Moses in the burning bush (see Exod. 3).

Moses, in the course of the conversation, asked God: ‘What is Your name?’ Since names, for the Israelites, both revealed the character of the person so named and allowed for the knower of the name to call upon the person so named, Moses in asking God to tell him His name, wanted to know God as well as have the power to call upon Him.

God must have chuckled (It was obviously an ‘impassible’ chuckle!) to Himself as He replied to Moses: “I Am Who I Am’ or “I Am He Who Is.’

God did reveal to Moses His name and so Moses now knew more about God than he knew before. He now knew that God is ‘He who is.’

However, Moses must have quickly realized that, in knowing God more fully, God had become an even greater mystery than He was before. Previously Moses in calling God, for example, El Shaddai— God of the Mountain– may not have known a great deal about God, but the little he did know was at least somewhat comprehensible. God was He who dwelt on the mountain, which was the home of the gods.

However, Moses now knew much more about God. He actually knew that God is ‘I Am Who I Am,’ but what it means for God to be ‘He Who Is’ is completely incomprehensible. Moses, nor we today, can comprehend that God’s very nature is ‘to be,’ that He is the One who is the fullness of life and existence.

Here we learn a primary lesson concerning the nature of revelation and theology. The more God reveals who He is and the more we come to a true and authentic knowledge of who He is, the more mysterious He becomes.

Theology, as faith seeking understanding, helps us come to a deeper and fuller understanding of the nature of God and His revelation, but this growth is in coming to know what the mystery of God is and not the comprehension of the mystery.”

–Thomas G. Weinandy, Does God Suffer? (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2000), 31-33.

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“Bible delight is the heartbeat of this psalm” by Christopher Ash

“As we read and pray through Psalm 119 we keep company with one who delighted in his Bible. Bible delight is the heartbeat of this psalm.

We might even say that he plays with Bible words, as he turns from one word to another in an elaborate poetic playfulness. More than twenty-five times he says he delights in the word of God, or loves and longs for the word of God.

To him it is delicious (119:103) and delightful. As he reads it he keeps stumbling across treasure (119:162). It is his hope, his peace, his joy, his song, his freedom, and his comfort.

He had much less of the Bible than we do. Certainly he had no New Testament. Probably he didn’t have all our Old Testament. We don’t know who wrote the psalm, or when.

But he loved his shorter Bible. From his psalm we may learn the logic and the dynamics of Bible delight.

I pray that as we learn to sing his psalm, we too may learn to love our complete and even richer Bibles, and that our hearts will beat in time with his, the heartbeat of Bible delight.”

–Christopher Ash, Bible Delight: Heartbeat of the Word of God: Psalm 119 for the Bible Teacher and Hearer (Proclamation Trust) (Geanies House, Fearn by Tain, Ross-shire IV20 1TW Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 2011), 11.

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“The true divine is an humble disciple of the Scriptures” by Herman Witsius

“By a divine, I mean one who, imbued with a substantial knowledge of divine things derived from the teaching of God Himself, declares and extols, not in words only, but by the whole course of his life, the wonderful excellencies of God, and thus lives entirely for His glory.

Such were in former days the holy patriarchs, such the divinely inspired prophets, such the apostolic teachers of the whole world, such some of those whom we denominate fathers, the widely resplendent luminaries of the primitive Church. The knowledge of these men did not lie in the wire-drawn subtleties of curious questions, but in the devout contemplation of God and His Christ.

Their plain and chaste mode of teaching did not soothe itching ears, but impressing upon the mind an exact representation of sacred things, inflamed the soul with their love, while their praiseworthy innocence of behaviour, in harmony with their profession, and unimpeached by their enemies, supported their teaching by an evidence that was irresistible, and formed a clear proof of their having familiar intercourse with the most holy God.

Let the divine rise to the higher fields of Scripture study, and sitting humbly before God, let him learn from His mouth the hidden mysteries of salvation, which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard,—which none of the princes of this world knew,—which no power of reason, however well trained, could discover, and which the angelic hosts above, although beholding continually the face of God, do yet with profoundest earnestness investigate.

In the richly stored books of Scripture, and nowhere else, are laid open to our view the secrets of this more sacred wisdom. Whatever is not drawn from the Scriptures,—whatever is not built upon them,—whatever does not exactly accord with them, however much it may recommend itself by assuming the guise of superior wisdom, or be upheld by ancient tradition, by the consent of the learned, or by dint of plausible arguments, is vain, futile,—in short, a mere falsehood.

TO THE LAW AND TO THE TESTIMONY, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

Let the divine be ravished with these heavenly oracles,—let him be occupied with them day and night,—let him meditate in them, let him live in them, let him draw his wisdom from them, let him compare all his thoughts with them, let him embrace nothing in religion which he does not find there.

Let him not tie his faith to any one, not to prophet, apostle, or even an angel, as if the dicta of any man or angel could be the rule of faith. In God, in God alone, let his faith rest.

For it is not a human, but emphatically a divine faith which we learn and teach; and so discriminating is it, that it reckons no foundation sufficiently firm, but that afforded by the authority of him who cannot lie, who never deceives.

The Word of God, moreover, when studied attentively, has also an indescribable power of attraction. It fills the mind with the clearest ideas of heavenly truth.

Its method of teaching is distinguished by purity, solidity, certainty, and the absence of the least mixture of error.

It soothes the mind with an ineffable sweetness.

It satisfies the hunger and thirst of sacred knowledge with flowing brooks of honey and butter.

It penetrates, by its irresistible power, into the inmost recesses of the heart.

It imprints its testimony on the mind so firmly and immoveably, that the believing soul rests upon it with as much security as if it had been carried up to the third heaven, and had heard it directly from God’s mouth.

It moves all the affections, and, exhaling in every line the most delightful odour of sanctity, breathes it into the soul of the pious reader, even although he perhaps does not reach the full meaning of all that he peruses.

I cannot find words to express how much we injure ourselves by an unnatural method of study, which, alas! has too much prevailed amongst us,—that method, I mean, which leads us first to form our conceptions of Divine things from human writings, and then to attempt to confirm these, either by passages of Scripture, sought out by ourselves, or by catching, without farther examination, at those adduced by others, as bearing on the point in hand, when we ought to draw our views of Divine truth directly from the Scriptures themselves, and to employ human writings not otherwise than as pointers, indicating to us, under the different topics of theology, those passages of Scripture by which we may be instructed in the mind of the Lord.

All that I have now said may be summed up thus:—THE TRUE DIVINE is a humble disciple of the Scriptures.

But as the Word of God is the only rule of Faith, so it is also necessary that our divine, in order to understand it in a spiritual and saving manner, give himself up to the internal teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, he who is a disciple of the Scriptures, must also be a disciple of the Spirit. He who looks at heavenly things with the blind eyes of nature, does not see their native splendour and beauty, but only a kind of false image of them, for the appearance which is proper to them is very different from that which is impressed upon the minds of those before whose eyes they so dimly hover.

In order to understand spiritual things, we must have a spiritual mind. The hidden things of Scripture elude the penetration of the merely human intellect, however acute; nor is the natural mind better able to perceive these, than are the organs of smell to judge of the nature of sounds, or those of hearing that of odours.

Here, therefore, the Spirit, the great teacher of souls, in order to come to the aid of such helplessness, bestows upon His pupils a new and spiritual mind, which He himself illuminates with the purest light, that they may be able to discern the most heavenly mysteries in their own proper brightness.

Along with Divine things, He gives, in large measure, a mind by which they can be relished and understood. He imparts the mind of Christ along with the things of Christ.

Hence the divine who has been instructed in this spiritual and heavenly school, not only learns to form in his mind genuine ideas of Divine things, but—inestimable treasure!—receives these things themselves.

For the Spirit, the teacher, presents not were words or downright figments—not vain dreams or empty phantoms, but, as it were, what is solid and enduring, and, if I may so express myself, the very substances of things. These are introduced into the soul of him who has a true knowledge of them, and are embraced by the whole affections, and with the utmost strength of the heart.

He who is a student in this heavenly school, not only knows and believes, but has also sensible experience of, the forgiveness of sins, and the privilege of adoption and intimate communion with God, and the grace of the indwelling Spirit, and the hidden manna, and the sweet love of Christ,—the earnest and pledge, in short, of perfect happiness.

Many things there are in this hidden wisdom which cannot be learned but by possessing, feeling, and tasting them. The new name is not known by any man, saving he that receiveth it. The Spirit thus works, that His disciples may taste and see how good the Lord is. He brings them into the banqueting-house, while his banner over them is love.

“Eat,” he says, “O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!” and thus made to partake liberally of the wine of the Saviour, they acquire a power of discerning heavenly objects, far surpassing that which Jonathan of old attained after he had tasted the honeycomb.

And that which any one has learned by this tasting, is fixed so immoveably in his soul, that no subtleties of argument, no sudden assaults of temptation, will avail to obliterate the impress of this seal. He is prepared to neutralize all objections by this one reply: It is vain to dispute against experience.

We have not, will such persons say—we have not followed cunningly-devised fables, when we believed the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eye-witnesses of His majesty; and we cannot but believe those things which we have heard with our ears, which our hands have handled, and our mouth hath tasted of the word of life.

Since these things are learned in a way so clear, holy, and saving, in the school of the Spirit alone, who does not see how absolutely necessary it is that our divine give himself up to be trained by this Master? In order that he may be thus instructed, let him heartily renounce his own wisdom, let him become a fool that he may be wise.

The new world of Divine knowledge is created by God, as was the old world itself, out of nothing. In the exercise of love, the student of Divine truth may make a near approach to God, and elicit the knowledge of His counsels.

The faithful and true Witness has declared, “He that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

Let our divine carefully lay up in his heart the sayings of the Holy Spirit, and by frequent meditation, set them again and again before his mind. In studying, let him not only read but pray; let him commune not with man alone, but with God in prayer, with himself in meditation.

The soul of a holy man is like a little sanctuary, in which God dwells by his Spirit, and where that Spirit, devoutly consulted in prayer, often reveals things of which the princes of this world can never by any study acquire such a knowledge.

In fine, let him see to it, that the mirror of his mind be so spiritually pure and unclouded, as to be suited to receive the Spirit of purity, together with those spiritual images which He presents. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”

And to close all, the divine, by these steps, and under the teaching of the Spirit, will reach such a degree of knowledge, as to see, in his own light, God the fountain of light, and to rejoice in Him, and in the knowledge of Him, with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”

–Herman Witsius, On the Character of the True Divine: An Inaugural Oration, Delivered at Franeker, April 16, 1675 (Edinburgh: James Wood, 1856), 12–13, 17–20, 24–28.

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